On the delicious trail of Maine’s wild blueberries
It’s July and in Maine that means one thing: it’s time to hunt something wild.
As in blueberries.
Wild blueberries reach harvest time in late July throughout the Down East section of Maine. Heading north to find them is an adventure in the views (gorgeous purple fields), tastes (from dinner pancakes to fancy cocktails), and the legacy of a fruit that’s as authentically Maine as the lobster roll. .
Wild blueberries are one of only three berries native to North America. Rather than on bushes, they grow in fields and on rocky hills called moors. Wild blueberries grow from common roots that develop and evolve over the years. Think about how mangroves work: they look separate but are linked as one.
Wild blueberries are smaller than regular blueberries, and because there is no genetic engineering, they vary in size, color, and even taste. They are considered a super food, with antioxidants contained in each berry.
And they love the maritime weather, which thrives in Maine and on the Canadian coast.
Wild blueberries are harvested by hand, often using rakes.
Said Colleen Craig, spokesperson for Wyman’s Wild Blueberries, one of Maine’s largest growers and distributors, growing, harvesting and consuming is part of the Maine pride they love to share.
“It is the brainchild of the state of Maine,” she said. “As iconic as the lobster. We are proud of our wild blueberries. Most of the kids here grew up raking blueberries, and so did their parents and grandparents. “
A visit to Maine during harvest time (July through late fall) will provide a feast for the senses.
Wild berries grow for two years before they’re ready to harvest, Craig said. And when they’re ready, visitors can see the real beauty.
“In Maine, starting in late July, crossing Down East is like seeing a carpet; a sea of blue, ”she said.
Blueberry moors dot the landscape.
And in stores and restaurants their flavor shines.
“You can find them in cocktails, in sauces like wing dips or a sweet and savory sauce on meat, in craft beer, jams and other creative ways,” Craig said.
Start in Portland.
At the famous Becky’s Diner (390 Commercial St., beckysdiner.com) wild blueberry pancakes are always a great choice. But the real choice, locals say, is their wild blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting.
The chefs of Chaval (58, rue des Pins, chavalmaine.com), also in Portland, take wild blueberries to another level, incorporating them into classic French and Spanish dishes and using them in craft cocktails.
Even well-known names embrace nature. Luke’s Lobster (60 Portland Pier, lukeslobster.com) serves slices of wild blueberry pie baked by Two Fat Cats Bakery (deuxfatcatsbakery.com). You can also stop by one of the two bakery locations in Portland (195 Lancaster St. and 740 Broadway, South Portland) to bring home a whole pie (or more!).
Continue to the coast to find more spots.
In Milbridge you’ll find the home of Wyman’s, its fourth generation family owned, and the world’s largest supplier of wild blueberries.
Although they don’t have tours, they do organize and participate in a lot of wild berry centric events.
This year, they’ll be part of the state’s very first Wild Blueberry Weekend (wildblueberries.com/where-to-buy/wild-blueberry-weekend/) from August 7-8, when you’ll find special events. related to blueberries all along the Down the East Coast.
And keep your eyes peeled: Wyman’s Bee Wild Mobile will be about to share the berry story and give you a taste of a fresh fruit bowl featuring this native fruit.