2018-09-06 / From The Garden

High Bush Blueberries, in Season!

By Cynthia Gibson

Having lived in Maine for many years, this time of summer was the time for the fruit highlight of the season: High Bush Blueberries. They are a quarter of the size of the store-bought, bland blueberries and filled with flavor.

The Maine blueberry is the true essence of blueberry. The great news is that you no longer have to drive to Maine to buy them. They are being sold at roadside fruit stands, farmers markets and summer corn stands, and are worth a drive to search them out. Locally, Walker’s Roadside Stand in Little Compton carries them.

High Bush Blueberries were favorites of our Native Americans living in the Northeast and Canada. The berry was found to be sweet, flavorful and good for one’s health. By 1893, Elizabeth White, a daughter of a New Jersey cranberry farmer, found potential value in the berry. She pursued her interest in blueberries by adding them to her father’s current crop.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Frederick Colville, however, is the man who convinced the USDA of the value of the berry. It was discovered that they love acidic soil, so with all of the pine trees growing throughout New England, it became a perfect planting area for the terrific blueberry.

By 1917, the United States had a wave of blueberries hitting the market and they were a tremendous success. The tiny berry finally made it from the field to the table and it was here to stay.

Over time, however, the little blue gem was hybridized into bloated, tasteless, supermarket berries. If that’s what you’re confronted with in your market, an alternative can be found in the frozen food aisle, in bags of Wilson’s tiny blueberries from Maine… those are far better and the real thing!

The best thing about the High Bush Blueberry is that it is so versatile. Delicious for breakfast with a bit of granola and yogurt, at lunchtime you can toss them into a salad for a different and tasty twist. Vinaigrette dressing is best on a blueberry. For dinner, the hands-down decision weighs heavily on the side of dessert, blueberry pie!

After all, homemade blueberry pie with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream is the quintessential New England summer dessert.

Here is the easiest recipe for the classic blueberry pie.

High Bush Blueberry Pie

2 qts. rinsed, blueberries
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter

Mix first three ingredients in a bowl and let rest for ten minutes or until all of the white cornstarch turns light purple.

Preheat oven to 350°

For an easy pie, buy a pair of crusts, found in the dairy department of your supermarket.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and place the pie plate on the sheet. Spray the pie plate with cooking oil, then carefully lay down the crust, smoothing it up the sides of the plate. Pour the blueberry mixture into the crust. With a paring knife, slice the butter into chunks and scatter them over the top of the berries. Take the second crust and cut it into strips. Make a lattice top for your pie. Trim off the excess crust and crimp the edge of the pie with a fork around the entire circumference of the pie.

Bake pie for 40-50 minutes, or until center is bubbling.

What will come out of your oven is a glorious, blueberry pie.

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