Posts

Canadian Wild Blueberries: What Happens to the Wild Blueberry?

If you’re like us, you’re probably curious about how harvest season looks for wild blueberry producers. When farmers are harvesting corn, wheat, oats or canola, they use combines with specific headers (and settings) for each type of crop. Apple pickers are often hired for harvest to hand pick apples, careful to not bruise them, and then they are sorted by shape, size and quality. Other berries are harvested by shaking the branches and using a hand held rake for the stragglers, allowing the fruit to drop to the ground which is covered with a tarp. 

How are Canadian Wild Blueberries Harvested?

 

While the wild blueberry used to be picked by hand or by using a small, hand-held rake, harvest has significantly changed for many producers over the last couple of decades. 90-95% of growers now use a mechanical harvester which is mounted to a tractor. These harvesters have rotating rakes that pull the berries from the branches, drop them onto a belt, and then drops them into large totes. 

             

 

Fact: Each tote can hold around 300 pounds of berries

 

Approximately only 1-2% of wild blueberry producers still use the more traditional method of hand-raking the wild blueberries off of the brush. There are also smaller mechanical harvesters, as well. These can be pushed, or have push rakes that are mounted onto smaller machines, and are often used on smaller farms. 

What Happens after They Are Picked?

 

Depending on the size of operation, there are different ways that producers go about handling their produce for Individual Quick Freezing (IQF). Most producers ensure that once the totes have been filled, they are loaded onto a flatbed trailer and brought to a receiving station. Here, they are weighed and loaded into a transport truck. These trucks will bring the berries to the processing plant, where they go through a series of events to prepare them for the individual quick freezing process. Note: some producers skip the flatbed trailer all together and load their berries directly into the transport truck for the delivery to the processing station. 

 

Once the berries arrive at the processing plant, they are cleaned in by going through a blower and several different water baths. To ensure quality control, they are sorted by using lasers, as well as other techniques. Once the berries have been sorted and cleaned, each and every wild blueberry is individually quick frozen. There are several different processes that the berries will then go through, depending on the processing plant, what the berries are being used for, and where they are going. In the end, the berries are then packaged and prepared to ship. For berries that are sold in the freezer section in your grocery store, most of the berries are packaged into 600 gram and 2 kilogram bags or containers. The vast majority of Canadian wild blueberries, however, are exported out of the country! 

Did you know that Japan uses wild blueberries primarily in yogurts and jams, while Germany will use Canadian wild blueberries most often in glass jars! 

What about Fresh Wild Blueberries?

 

Because fresh wild blueberries do not have a long shelf life, they are most often sold as frozen berries. But if you’re in an area during wild blueberry harvest, and you happen to get your hands on some of those small blue gems, we highly recommend doing so! The process of harvest-to-table of fresh wild blueberries is a little different. 

Once the berries are picked, they are then brought back to the shop on the local farm. They go through a similar process as their frozen counterparts, with a giant fan blowing out the debris. Then they go over a sizing belt which helps sort the berries by size and ripeness, a tilter belt that removes clusters, and then over a picking belt where workers can sort through the fruit to pull the bad ones out (note: some operations also have started using lasers to help with this sorting process). Boxes are then packed in several sizes, including pint, 5lb and 10lbs. You can find these blueberries fresh at farm markets, some local grocery stores, or roadside stands. The farms that have their own processors will often also freeze their berries, and sell them to consumers well after the harvest is over!  

We are so thankful for those who manage and harvest Canadian wild blueberries! We love those tangy little berries that are unique to our part of the world, and how versatile they are. It’s wonderful being able to use them in all types of food, throughout the year (thanks to IQF), and even other things like DIY paint and soap. 

 

What do you think? Did you know this is how the mighty wild blueberry was harvested and processed? Were there any surprises? Let us know in the comments!

U-Pick Wild Blueberries in the Maritimes

With the summer truckin’ on, we are all excitedly anticipating the wild blueberry season, which usually starts sometime in August, and goes through until September (depending on the year)! There’s nothing that quite beats the taste of fresh wild blueberries, straight from the shrub, right? While you can often find these blue gems on your adventures down trails and paths, there are also several U-Picks throughout the maritimes! 

Nova Scotia

Wild Blueberry U-Pick

Location: 1 km north on the Upper Clyde Road Clyde River, NS, Canada
Phone: (902) 637-8322
Check out their website HERE

 

Glenhill Berry Farm

Location: Hwy #7, North Lochaber, NS
Phone: 902-783-2787 or Email: staylor@stfx.ca.
You can find more information HERE

 

BeeCee Farms Wild Blueberries

Location: 172 New France, Afton Rd. Antigonish, NS
Phone: (902) 863-2047
Watch for updates and information HERE

 

 

Wild Blueberry Health Benefits

 

New Brunswick

Trueman Blueberry Farms

Location: 255 Etter Ridge Road, Aulac Sackville, NB
Phone: (506) 364-7458
Check out their website HERE

 

Sunset U-Pick

Location: 49 Ferris street, Fredericton, NB
Phone: 506-459-3183
To learn more about Sunset U-Pick, click HERE

 

Michel Ross

Location: 3252 Route 135, Trudel, NB
Phone: 506-764-3533
There is no website for this farm, so you’ll want to call for all the updates!

Prince Edward Island

Blue Acre Farms 

Location: 15623 Route 14 Tignish, PE
Phone: (902) 882-3410
To watch for updates and get more information, click HERE

 

The McCardle’s Berry Patch

Location: 11860 St Peters Rd Tracadie Cross PE
Phone: (902) 676-2945
Check out their page for more information! You can find it HERE

 

Woodingtons Blueberry U-Pick

Location: 539 Route 104 Kensington, PE
Phone: (902) 836-5305
Click the link HERE to find out more information! 

 

 

Strawberries are great, apples are delicious, and picking your own pumpkin can be a blast. But we think there’s nothing quite like picking a bucket full of fresh wild blueberries! 

 

Have another u-pick in mind that you don’t see listed here? Drop a comment below and help us update this list! 

 

 

 

 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Canadian Wild Blueberries

It’s no surprise that wild blueberries have a big following. They are a versatile little super fruit, heavily packed with nutrients, vitamins and fibre. But there is more to the wild blueberry than meets the eye. Here are 5 fun facts that you may not have already known! 

1. Finding fresh wild blueberries is tricky and can only be done during a short growing season. 

Wild blueberries are not known for their fresh shelf life. In fact, the vast majority of wild blueberries are actually frozen using a special method called Individually Quick Frozen. The berries are collected and then frozen within 24 hours of being harvested. This method of freezing them individually ensures that they retain their superfruit qualities and provide the same intense nutrition that they would if they were fresh! 

 

2. Canadian wild blueberries are sold around the world. 

It’s true! Canadian wild blueberries can be found in products and in freezers around the world! In fact, Canada alone produces over 300 million pounds of wild blueberries a year, with a good majority of those berries being exported. 

 

3. Canadian wild blueberries come in all kinds of forms. 

While many people love to eat wild blueberries straight from the branches, people have transformed the wild blueberry into different forms for all kinds of uses. Among these include pure wild blueberry juices, syrups, powders, dried (both chewy and crunchy), freeze dried, and more! 

 

4. Wild blueberries and cultivated blueberries are different! 

The saying “an apple is an apple” is not true – either in the case of apples OR in the case of blueberries! While all blueberries are good for you, wild blueberries are known to have a more intense flavour profile, and are higher in anthocyanins and antioxidants than their highbush cousins. The other main difference between the two blueberry families is the way that they are grown. Cultivated blueberries are grown on bushes that can grow incredibly tall, and are planted by producers. Wild blueberries, or low bush blueberries, are grown on bushes that are no higher than your knee, and sprawl along the ground. These grow in the wild, and aren’t planted by producers. 

 

5. The wild blueberry has a dedicated following of consumers. 

We aren’t kidding when we say people love their wild blueberries. In Canada alone, there are at least 5 different festivals that are dedicated to the Canadian wild blueberry! We love that so many people love wild blueberries, because we do too! If you’re interested in participating in one of the wild blueberry festivals in Canada, take a peek at this post all about it! 

 

Tell us – what surprised you most? We love to hear your feedback, so drop it in the comments below! 

9 Uniquely Blue Gift Ideas

9 Uniquely Blue Gift Ideas

Though the traditional gift giving season may be over, that doesn’t mean gift buying is out! Whether you’re an eager beaver and are getting ahead of the crowds for next year’s holiday celebrations, or a special occasion is coming up, a gift guide is never out of style. As the Canadian Wild Blueberry Association, we love that Canadians love to support other Canadians. Did you know that by supporting businesses that use Canadian wild blueberries, you’re supporting your Canadian blueberry farmers? So we thought we would create a list of 9 Wild Blueberry Gift Ideas for you to consider during your next gift giving opportunity! 

 

Bonne Maman Jams

If you’re looking for some tasty treats to pass around at your next pandemic-approved event, Bonne Maman has created beautiful and artistic gift boxes filled with delicious jams, jellies, and compotes! These are usually quick selling, so you’d better hurry to get your hands on one before they’re gone. 

You can find these online, Costco, IGA, and other specialty shops.

Celestial Seasonings

For the tea-lovers in your life, consider Celestial Seasonings “True Blueberry Herbal Tea” – a fragrant taste of the wild blueberry that you know and love! Give it with a new mug, or the box itself with an ice cube tray, this gift can be used all year ‘round, and is an incredibly versatile product to round out your gift-giving! 

Many supermarkets (such as Walmart Supercenter, Giant Tiger, Sobeys and Superstore) carry Celestial Seasonings tea, though they may not carry the True Blueberry. Talk to your local supermarket today! 

 

Chudleigh’s

Based in Ontario, Chudleigh’s carries a mouth-watering assortment of goods. From pies to jams, salsa to cider, there is something for everyone! Currently, they are offering a Jam Holiday Gift Box (which is ON SALE right now!) that includes a jar of wild blueberry-wild raspberry jam that we’re dying to try.

As always, these can be ordered online, or you can find them at most local supermarkets including Costco, Giant Tiger, Loblaws, Wholesale Club, and more.

 

Farmer’s Dairy

Perhaps one of the best in-home date nights involve a blanket, a movie, and a bucket of ice cream. Give the gift of YUM, along with a tub of Farmer’s Oxford Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream! Made with 100% Canadian milk, and 100% Canadian Wild Blueberries, you can feel VERY sure that you’re supporting local, all the while enjoying a spoonful (or more) of delicious dairy.

Found at all major grocery retailers in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

 

Jamieson

That’s right, Jamieson (the brand known for vitamins and probiotics) also incorporates wild blueberries in their products! Thinking about giving the gift of nutrition this year? Consider some chewable Vitamin B in a health and wellness gift basket (hey, you could throw some Celestial Seasonings tea in there, too!)!

Found at most major retailers and pharmacies in Canada.

 

Nature’s Path

We love Nature’s Path for a variety of reasons, not the least of which the fact that they are all about whole grains, healthy eating, and healthy living (especially on the go). So for the one who never has time for breakfast in your life, consider slipping a box of these Sunrise Blueberry Chia Breakfast Biscuits in their gift basket this year! They’ll be thanking you as they run out the door, biscuits in hand!

Found at most major grocery stores.

Pepper North

Have a hot-sauce lover on your hands? Awesome. Take a peek at Pepper North’s Blueberry Plague hot sauce. With a heat index of 7/10, this spicy treat has strong notes of wild blueberries, Trinidad scorpion peppers, wild honey, and red habanero peppers. 

Pepper North products can be found at Loblaws, Sobeys, Amazon, Superstore, Highland Farms, and more.

 

St.Dalfour

Wanting a French take on a wild blueberry jam? Head over to St. Dalfour! After sending Canadian wild blueberries to France, St. Dalfour creates a delicious jam and sends it right back for all of us to enjoy.

These products can be found at Loblaws, Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, and more. 

 

Van Dyk’s 

Offering delicious pure wild blueberry juice isn’t the only thing that Van Dyk’s are known for! They produce a number of delicious products, and are now offering gift baskets with a delightful combination of their most popular products! 

These products can be purchased online, at most quality and health food stores across Canada, including Loblaws, Sobeys, Pharmasave, among many, many more. 

 

 

There are so many different kinds of gifts you can give; food baskets, health and wellness themed boxes, charcuterie boards (these have been incredibly popular) and so much more. Why not consider adding some Canadian Wild Blueberries to the mix? Not only will you be supporting Canadian wild blueberry farmers, you’ll be putting a smile on your recipient’s face as well!