Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blueberries Someday

Have you ever eaten low bush blueberries? They're very tiny and sweet and grow in the wild, mostly in Maine. There are some fields of native blueberries in Massachusetts - mostly on the tops of mountains that are rocky. One happens to be in the town we live in. Although the blueberries are native, it takes some farming to keep the fields bearing.

Yesterday, this was the biggest news in our little town - the blueberry fields were burning. It was very exciting because they haven't been burned in almost a decade and haven't been harvested in quite a while.

This is how it happens. They get a burning permit and pick a day when there is no wind. It helps if the ground is still wet which it was yesterday. They light a brush fire and the field slowly starts burning.

There are lots of rakes and just in case large tanks of water.

The fire slowly spreads. The leaves and the stalks of the berry plants burn. The goal is to only burn the plants. If the fire spreads to the roots, it takes longer for the plants to recover. When it is done, the field looks charred.

The plants won't start bearing until 2009. We all are looking forward to lots of fresh sweet berries soon.


Joansie said...

I'm from Maine originally (now in VT) and the blueberry fields are so beautiful this time of the year...a vibrant crimson. They burn fields every other year up there. Yes, the blueberries are delicious.
On another note, are you going to see the yarnharlot at Webs on the 27th? I'll be there. I've seen her before and she is so much fun!

Jessica said...

I can't eat the huge, fat, bland blueberries they sell on the west coast. I grew up eating the wild Maine berries at summer camp and on Nantucket. A million times sweeter and tastier than the things they sell at the store.

Anonymous said...

I do love discovering those low-bush blueberries in the wild. Such a treat.

I didn't know about the burning! Fascinating.

rebecca.hunt said...

I didn't know about the burning, either. My summers growing up were spent in the northern/Lake Michigan side of the lower penisula of Michigan. And it was my great joy to eat wild blueberries right off the bush. They were so wee.

Kathleen C. said...

Growing up we would visit my Grandparents for a few weeks each summer at their house on Cape Cod (we were visiting from far away on the west coast).
In the mornings we would walk along the paths in the pine woods and find little blueberry bushes full of the sweet little berries.
We'd eat a bunch, but always make sure to bring plenty back with us to gramma. We'd feast on her blueberry muffins and bluebery pancakes. Yum!!!

Karen L. said...

Ah yes, Maine blueberries ... love them! When I was young our family used to vacation in Maine, VT, NH, etc. every summer, camping in a borrowed tent with a Coleman stove for cooking. We would pick those blueberries on pancake day. Nothing better than eating Maine blueberry pancakes out in the woods. Being from southern NJ originally, I now wait for our local NC markets to get a load of those NJ blueberries in and I stock up, putting lots in the freezer for continual use through the winter. All the others are tasteless. However, those Maine blueberries are still the BEST!

Michele in Maine said...

Yes, we have a field next to our back yard which used to bear lots of berries. I occasionally ask the owner of the field to consider burning it to make the berry harvest better, but he hasn't yet. So I buy local, organic berries at our food co-op and freeze them. That way I have access to yummy berries all year round. And soon strawberry picking time will be here!

Willow said...

My friends out here in Southern California have many many acres of blueberries. I've written a post or two about them and am planning another one soon (maybe this week).

knittingiris said...

A sure sign of spring around here is the burning of fields, and it's almost a guarantee that, on the first clear blue gorgeous day of spring, the forest service will start doing prescribed burns, often filling the whole valley with smoke. Also, people burning off the grass plus springtime afternoon winds often equals the fire siren in town going off calling all the volunteer fire fighters out onto the scene.
Oh, and around here, both prescribed burns and natural forest fires always means a good morel mushroom season the following summer.