'Exceptional' NH blueberry crop is ripe and ready for picking
Edna Paradis of Goffstown picks early in the morning, before temperatures soar. (Kathy Remillard Photo)
Despite extreme weather this summer, from driving rain to steam heat, local growers say this year's crop is plentiful, and it's ready now.
Hardy said the rain has been good for his four acres of blueberry plants, and when temperatures rise, a good irrigation system helps them to remain healthy.
Rich Bailey, who purchased Berry Good Farm in New Boston last September, said that while heavy rains haven't done any damage, weather always remains a factor in what the plants will yield and when they will be ready for picking.
Bailey said a warmer winter and late spring will push the season forward a bit, whereas a colder spring will delay it.
Joanne Smith, who owns High Hopes Orchard in Westmoreland with her husband, Bruce, said the heavy rains before the season officially began were helpful for their blueberry crop, but significantly damaged the farm's crop of less hardy raspberries.
Smith said the farm grows and wholesales blueberries right into the fall, and participates in several area farmer's markets.
"If the pH is off even a little, it can throw off the flavor," she said. "People tell us we have the best around."
Pickers at Berry Good Farm said that picking is a New England tradition, and one they look forward to every year.
"We started coming here when these bushes were still short," said Carmen Gagnon of Goffstown, who was picking recently with friends Lucille Dionne and Edna Paradis. "This is a tradition my father started."
"I make a batch of muffins," Dionne said. "The rest I freeze for cereal all year long."
Dionne said store-bought blueberries just don't compare to the ones she picks herself, and the friends agreed that picking them is half the fun.
Berry Good Farm offers the following tips for handling blueberries:
Big Nana's Blueberry Buckle
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Cream butter, add sugar, beat until light. Add egg and beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beat until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Pour into greased 9 x 9 x 2 pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 pkg. (6-count) individual graham cracker tart shells
2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
In bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Spread in tart shells. In a bowl, mash 3 tablespoons blueberries with sugar, lemon juice and peel. Add remaining berries and toss. Spoon into tart shells. Chill for 1 hour.
Closing the season in style