Wild Blueberry Day


Monday, July 22, 2013

It’s such a great day today; sunny and cool.  Perfect for picking wild blueberries.   After Yoga I dressed in protective clothing (wide brim had, overalls, boots, long sleeve shirt and work gloves) and headed out to the bluff with two stainless bowls in search of blueberries.  Everyone that picks wild blueberries has their own different technique.  Our friend Rudy uses a Cranberry rake. Some pick one at a time.  I favor the two bowl technique.  

I pick my spot and place the large bowl at the edge of the field.  Then, with the small bowl in hand I wade carefully into the field of berries.  Looking for large clumps of fruit, I place the small bowl under the berry stem and carefully brush the ripe berries into the bowl.  I do get  unripe berries in the mix, but make an effort to carefully try to leave as many unripe berries as possible on the stem to ripen another day.  

No photograph can convey the pleasure of berry picking on the edge of the cliff  in view of Jordan Bay on a cool sunny day. If necessary, years past, I have picked in fog and rain to get enough berries for jam or a pie.  The berry plants are mixed in with Bayberry plants.  Just touching the Bayberry sets off the sweet smell of Bayberry mixed with salt air.  The background sound is small waves crashing on the rocky coast.  Sea gulls are calling in the distance.   An occasional Loon sounds somewhere on the Bay.  As the berries can be found all over the property, each location is different for a different experience.  Picking by the Roses and Bird Bath is different from the cliff as picking along the driveway is different from the Rose area.  

The best berry spot today was on the cliff side edge of the property.  Using care not to get too close to the cliff, berry picking requires patience and the ability to kneel or squat in the field.  This is were Yoga gives me an advantage.  Once the small bowl is full I wade out and pour the berries into the larger bowl and then place the large bowl at the edge of the field where I head back into the field.  I went back and forth and managed to cover about 500 feet of the property.  The large bowl filled up quickly, or did it take hours?  I have no idea, but when it was full I took a break.  

The next step is cleaning the berries.  Rudy recommended I spread the berries out on a sheet or towel and let the wind blow off all the grass and leaves, then it’s time to hand clean.  Generally, I work the berries over at least three times before washing and measuring for the jam process.  

If you have never made jam, it’s really easy and fun.  The important thing is to prep all equipment and ingredients in advance.  Measure the sugar with a cup measure.  Clean all the jars and lids and ready them in a line on the kitchen counter near the stove.  I use liquid Certo and follow the directions for cooked jam.   Once I make my jam any berries I pick thereafter, will be for pancakes, pie or cobbler.  Blueberry muffins are great, too!  It’s illegal  to bring fresh fruit across the U.S., Canada border, so if I pick wild blueberries in Canada we eat them or I make jam. Since several jars are already spoken for, I hope to make two batches, if I can gather enough wild blueberries for the job.


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