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article imageA good year for those sweet blueberries

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Aug 5, 2009 in Food
With cooler than normal temperatures this year both Mich. and Mass. have a crop of blueberries that are plump and sweet. They are abundant in the grocery stores, fruit markets or roadside stands. Many places you can pick them yourself.
Michigan has had a cooler than usual summer so far this year. Some areas of Michigan set records for the coolest ever July on record. Many residents have been unhappy with the cool weather except for the blueberry growers.
The blueberry harvest is expected to be smaller than last year's but the cooler than normal temperatures are helping to produce a high quality crop according to Frank Bragg, CEO of MBG Marketing, a berry cooperative based in Grand Junction.
Bragg added, "Each year, from late June through October, Michigan harvests about 90 million pounds of the fruit, making it the No. 1 producer in the United States."
80 percent of Michigan blueberries are grown on the west side of the state in Van Buren and Allegan counties.
The record year was last year with 110 million pounds of blueberries being produced and with the economic impact on the state being about $165 million.
Bragg said this years crop is expected to be smaller, about 92 million pounds, but the quality is the best in the past 30 to 40 years.
Bragg said, "We've got very large, sweet and plump berries."
Massachusetts has had heavy rains and cold temperatures which isn't good for many crops but has been good for blueberries.
Audrey Murphy whose family owns Blue Meadow Farm in Sudbury said blueberries thrive in a combination of rain and sun. She said, "And we've had plenty of both.The rain just makes them plumper and they need the sun to ripen. They like the roots to be wet."
When settlers first came to the New World they brought their recipes for their fruit desserts. They realized they could use blueberries in place of the berries and fruit they had in their native lands.
The silvery sheen that is seen on blueberries is a natural coating that protects the fruit and keeps moisture inside.
According to NewsTribune when you get the berries home you can keep them in their containers stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Just before they will be used rinse them in cold water.
If you purchase more than you can use freeze them. Place the berries in zip-top bags or rigid freezer plastic containers and them until you will be using them. You can also rinse them before freezing, then spread them on a towel to dry and prevent them from sticking together. After they are dry put them into the containers. Use the frozen berries within six months for best results.
If you want to make some blueberry pies they can be made and frozen. Do not bake them first. Wrap them securely in freezer wrap. When you are going to bake them do not thaw first just add extra time when baking.
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