I didn’t actually GO blueberry picking with Joy Salyers and Elijah Gaddis, but I heard all about it and got to enjoy the bounty. Heck, I don’t even know where they went.
But that Monday, I came into work to find a large container on my desk filled almost to overflowing. So I had them by the handful. At first. Then I slowed down to popping them one by one just barely biting into them so I could enjoy the little explosions on my tongue, which was rapidly turning blue. Made some blueberry pancakes, also enjoying the last of a bottle of Vermont maple syrup my sister always brings when she visit. But my favorite pairing is with lemon sorbet. Just close your eyes and imagine the sweetness of the blueberry with the tart zing of lemon.
It wasn’t until I started researching blueberries that I stumbled upon the North Carolina Blueberry Council. We can thank Mr. Harold Huntington from Montclair, NJ for leaving NJ and coming south to NC where he had a big hand in cultivating new varieties of blueberries. In the early 1920’s, Huntington and his mentor, Miss Elizabeth White both fascinated with the blueberry discovered that the tiny fruit grew wild and abundant down in Pender County, not too far from the Atlantic ocean. Huntington purchased some 1640 acres and started with the first root cuttings. Each year he cleared more land. Each year he planted more blueberries. There was a loss of production in the mid-1930’s and 1940’s due to canker, but growth returned after working with NC State University to develop some disease resistant varieties. Two varieties were developed in North Carolina – the Wolcott (named after Harold’s father) and the Murphy (named after a local farmer).
Now you know what I know. Except for the ones waiting for me in my freezer, I’m really going to miss fresh NC blueberries until they come back next year.
Deborah Miller, Program Administrator at the North Carolina Folklife Institute, is a native Tar Heel and lifelong foodie with a deep passion for music. Read more at www.simmer2sizzle.com.
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