Learn how wild blueberries are different than regular or high bush blueberries.
Are they worth the extra effort? And where can you find them?
I had always wanted to try a fresh wild blueberry. It's not something that I have ever seen at a store, out in the wild, or at a famer's market before. Sure I have seen frozen or dried ones in the stores, but I was longing for the fresh experience.
I decided to take a trip to the place that is known for their wild blueberries, Maine. And right during the heart of the season.
What makes wild blueberries so special? Are they really that different?
❔ How They are Different?
The first time I walked up to a little road side stand that was selling wild blueberries I was struck by their size. They are so tiny. I am used wanting to pick out the biggest, juiciest blueberries I could find as those seem to be the sweetest most times.
But I can tell you that a lot of sweetness is packed into those small wild berries. They are sweeter than any other blueberry I have had. When I made jam with them, I had to add some lemon juice in order to add in some acidic to balance the sugar.
In terms of flavor, imagine the flavor of your normal super market blueberry, but turned up several notches. It's really amazing how much flavor and sweetness come in such a small package.
When it comes to texture, my wife will tell you wild blueberries all the way. She doesn't like eating blueberries out of hand normally. Wild berries have a great skin to flesh ratio.
➕ More Antioxidants
Besides a flavor punch, wild blueberries also pack more nutrition. According to wildblueberries.com, they have 2x the antioxidants as cultivated berries. Wild berries are
"rich in anthocyanin, a flavonoid with potent antioxidant capacity."Wild Blueberries
♻️ Can You Swap Them in Recipes?
Absolutely. If you can get your hands on wild blueberries, then do a one for one swap. Like I said I did have to add some acidity to my jam I made with them, but when I made pancakes with them, I didn't feel they were too sweet.
It's rare to find fresh wild blueberries. Either you have to pick them yourself, or go to Maine during the season where you can find them in stores and farmer's markets. Most of them you will either buy dried or frozen.
💡 Top Tip - If you substitute fresh blueberries for frozen wild blueberries in a recipe, you do not need to thaw the berries before using them. Just put them right in your muffins completely frozen. By the time the muffins are done baking, the berries will be perfectly thawed. I think if you let them thaw, condensation will gather on the berries throwing off the moisture, especially bad in baked goods.
🚜 Where Do They Grow?
You can find blueberries growing in many states from Washington down to Florida. The wild ones grow in many places as well, however places with cooler climates like Canada, Maine, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have a more significant crop, although Maine is the really the only state that grows them for commercial use on a large scale.
RELATED - When are Wild Blueberries in Season?
🌱 How they Grow?
Wild blueberries are considered a low bush or Rabbit-eye type of blueberry. That means they are very low to the ground. They spread on the ground, forming a nature carpet full of berries. When I walked up to my first patch I didn't even realize they were there until I got close and saw all the tiny berries.
While I harvested them by hand for the experience, you can also harvest them with a special berry rake that you run through the patch. You then have to separate the berries from the stems and leaves. Large operations use winnowing machines.
It's a very different experience from picking the high bush blueberries that you are use to. Those you don't even have to bend over to pick, you just reach out and fill your buckets. It's definitely a labor of love to pick wild blueberries.
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- Pink Lemonade Blueberries
- Lemon Poppyseed Blueberry Muffins
- Maple Blueberry Buckle recipe
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