What to expect
Picking blueberries is an enjoyable activity. Similar to housework, you have something to show for your efforts although its much more rewarding!
Blueberries are one of the easiest berries to pick. We grow highbush blueberries that allow you to stand upright while picking. Our plants are grown in straight rows and equally spaced for easy access and they are pruned annually to encourage new growth. There is sawdust covering the base of the plants to reduce watering requirements and unnecessary weeding. Grass is grown between the rows to reduce dust and additional weeds.
An experienced picker can generally pick about 8 - 10 pounds of blueberries in an hour. This is the equivalent to filling two plastic 4 litre ice cream buckets. In order to pick this many berries in an hour, one needs to be using both hands. Individuals that are interested in picking large quantities of berries are encouraged to visit multiple times and pick their daily quota rather than overdoing it in one long hot day.
The fields receive direct sunlight throughout the day and provide minimal shade. Everyone is encouraged to wear a hat, sunscreen and long sleeve white clothing as the temperatures are often warmer than elsewhere. Don't forget to bring drinking water too.
Blueberries should be stored in the refrigerator for fresh eating or frozen immediately for later use. When freezing blueberries, it's not necessary to wash them first. Simply store the berries in your preferred container for easy access. Don't forget to label with the date.
When we first started growing blueberries, I used to freeze them on cookie sheets until someone asked me why? It became apparent that without any moisture on the berries there's really no need to freeze them individually. I can't tell you how many times there was frozen blueberries rolling around the kitchen like marbles... Not anymore! It's straight into the ice cream pails or freezer bags depending on what's readily available.
When it comes time to use the frozen berries, a quick shake in a bowl or colander will remove the majority of stems and blossoms. Generally there's always room for more berries in any of the recipes noted... It's the one ingredient that isn't measured precisely.
Blueberries are ranked Number 1 in antioxidant activity compared to 40 other commercially grown fruits and vegetables. That means a serving of blueberries provides the antioxidant power needed to fight aging, cancer and heart disease.
These round, dark blue berries offer more than just good looks and taste. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin A, containing more than any other fruit. One cup of blueberries is 84 calories and also provides nearly one-third of an adult's daily requirement of vitamin C. Blueberries are low in sodium and high in dietary fiber and contain no cholesterol or fat.
According to the B.C. Blueberry Council, there are about 17,000 acres devoted to growing almost 80 million pounds of blueberries in the province. This makes British Columbia the largest producer of highbush blueberries in Canada with production increasing steadily.
At Stewart's Berry Patch, our plants are highbush which means that at mature height, the plants are between 4 to 6 feet tall. The plants have been chosen for their growing season, flavor and size. Three early varieties, Duke, Reka and Sparton are generally ready in early July. The other varieties, Blue Crop, Nelson and Sierra are ready late, likely mid-month.