Great news, blueberry season is here early in Johnston County with some farms already offering u-pick blueberries and many with fresh blueberries for sale! Early June is normally the beginning of blueberry season here in North Carolina, but weather can affect the growing seasons. Due to the weather in JoCo this year so far, strawberry season was early and now blueberries too!
In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank only second to strawberries in popularity. Blueberries are repeatedly ranked in the U.S. diet as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings. And they taste so good in our recipes!
History of Blueberries
Blueberries hold a special place in the foods of North America, since more species of blueberries are native to North America than any other continent. To this day, the United States cultivates and supplies over half of all blueberries in the world. Among the 275 million pounds of blueberries grown in the U.S., Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and North Carolina are states most heavily involved in blueberry farming. Because of its special interest in lowbush blueberries, the state of Maine is actually the largest lowbush blueberry producer in the world.
Blueberry Farms in JoCo
How to Select & Store Berries
Choose blueberries that are firm and have a lively, uniform hue colored with a whitish bloom. Shake the container, noticing whether the berries have the tendency to move freely; if they do not, this may indicate that they are soft and damaged or moldy. Avoid berries that appear dull in color or are soft and watery in texture.
Before storing, remove any crushed or moldy berries to prevent the rest from spoiling. Don't wash berries until right before eating as washing will remove the bloom that protects the berry's skin from degradation. Store ripe blueberries in a covered container in the refrigerator where they will keep for up to 3 days. If kept out at room temperature for more than a day, the berries may spoil.
Ripe berries can also be frozen, although this will slightly change their texture and flavor. Before freezing, wash, drain and remove any damaged berries. To better ensure uniform texture upon thawing, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet or baking pan, place in the freezer until frozen, then put the berries in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer.
Once you've picked or purchased your farm-fresh blueberries, try this traditional cobbler recipe below as a delicious way to consume your berry bounty! And find more blueberry recipes here!
Blueberry Cobbler Recipe
1 pound fresh blueberries (about 3 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup Turbinado (raw) sugar or granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350°F
Spread blueberries in ungreased 8 or 9-inch square baking dish
Sprinkle with cornstarch and drizzle with lemon juice, then set aside
In medium bowl combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt
Add milk and butter
Stir just until combined (not smooth)
Drop mounds of dough onto blueberries
Pour boiling water over dough and fruit
Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup sugar
Bake until biscuits are golden brown and blueberries are bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes
Serve warm or at room temperature
Number of servings (yield): 8