Blue Groves is owned by Bob & Marianne Hatch. They are in their 33rd year notes Marianne, with a smile that suggests she finds that this hardly seems possible. Their 15 acres of blueberries includes several varieties. Although the spring was a bit rough with bees reluctant to pollinate in the damp weather, the crop has turned out well.
Blue Groves U-Pick Fruit Farm
25503 Talbot Line (near Eagle on Hwy 3)
Irene Puddester fell in love with Blueberry Hill when she discovered it 17 years ago, and hasn't looked back. Planting of bushes there started 35 years ago. Irene offers berries that are grown without chemicals, and rely on the naturally-occurring bee population for pollination. Nine acres of berries produce about 1,000 bushels per acre on varieties with intriguing names like Blue Crop, Blue Ray, Berkeley, Patriot and Blue Jay.
Blueberry Hill Farm
22039 Hoskins Line, Rodney
Twenty-seven years ago, Dennis and Sandra Fishcher wanted to try planting something new as part of their farm. They chose blueberries and today the field across from their home is a well-established 5-acre patch. Sandra's favourite way to eat blueberries is in smoothies – you'll find a recipe on the Beary Blue website (with an option of adding peach schnapps, mmmm!) They also carry dehydrated berries – they're little bursts of flavour that I look forward to trying as a replacement in recipes calling for raisins.
Beary Blue Acres
23301 Queens Line, Rodney
- Wild blueberries are native to North America, and were used by early settlers in a variety of foods.
- In the early 1900's researchers began to domesticate wild highbush blueberries to develop the cultivated highbush kind, and in 1976, the cultivated berries began to be grown in Ontario. From 5 to 7 feet high, they have larger fruit than the wild berries.
- Blueberries rely on bees for pollination.
- Blueberries are a source of Vitamin C and fibre and contain notably high levels of anthocyanins and other antioxidant pigments. It's the anthocyanins which give them their intense blue colour.
Visit a farmgate, farmers' market or farm market and look for fresh local blueberries. Select firm sweet-smelling berries. Store loosely covered in the refrigerator.
- Eat just as they are or sprinkled on cereal, ice-cream or yogurt, or in smoothies.
- Fruit salad combinations with raspberries, strawberries, melons or nectarines burst with refreshing summer flavour. Try a combo-salad without sugar or sprinkled with a little simple syrup or lavender syrup (available from Steed & Co Lavender).
- Blueberries are featured in many old-time favourites like pies, crisps, and cobblers which traditionally contained wild blueberries.
- Several flavours make classic pairings with blueberry, including lemon (Blueberry Lemon Crisp), ginger (Blueberry Pie with Ginger Crust), peaches (Frozen Peach Mousse with Blueberry Swirl), mint (Minted Blueberry Fruit Salad) and basil (Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Basil Filling, Blueberry Basil Ice-Cream).
- They are also the main ingredient in many savoury combinations (Blueberry-Onion Sauced Pork Tenderloin or Pan Seared Duck Breast Glazed with Blueberry Ketchup).
- All these recipes and more can be found on the websites listed below.
- Pancake tip: sprinkle the blueberries on top of the batter after it is poured, to prevent the blue colour from running through the pancakes.
- Try this recipe for Blueberry Brickle, an Arts & Cookery Bank favourite from Blue Groves Blueberries.
Blueberries freeze well for use when this year's season is over.
- Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
- Place the berries in the freezer till hard (about three hours). Transfer the frozen berries to freezer bags or containers and return to the freezer. Most sources recommend the blueberries not be washed before freezing, but later when they are removed from the freezer. (I have found that washing before freezing works fine as long as they are dried very well first. )
- Find blueberry information and recipes at: the Ontario Berry Growers Association; Foodland Ontario;
- The Ontario Berry Growers have also produced a video on how cultivated blueberries are grown, with some nice photos of the blueberries in blossom.
- Blueberry Canada has started a campaign to make blueberries our national fruit, based on the fact that it is native to all provinces and territories, cherished by English, French and Aboriginal Canadians and ranks as the number one fruit crop in the country. There's place to contact them if you support the campaign, or just think blueberries are a cool fruit.
- The US Highbush Blueberry Council provides information and recipes, including savoury and chef-inspired ones.