Growing up, every July my family would take a long road trip to visit family. One activity we always did together was go blueberry picking with my grandpa at a U-pick farm a short drive from his house. Everyone would fill a bucket—though we always joked we ate more than ended up in the buckets—then go home, separate the portion we’d eat fresh, and freeze the rest to use later, in pies, pastries, and, when the wheel of the year had turned back around to July, in my mom’s blueberry muffins that fueled us on those road trips.
July is National Berries Month. I never knew that as a kid, but reading that today sent me flashing back to those childhood memories of stained purple fingers, the serenity of the rows of bushes, the taste of a bunch of heavy berries dropping off the stem at the slightest rake of the fingers. And it sent me to Ask IFAS about blueberries in Florida.
Unsurprisingly, Ask IFAS has a wealth of information on blueberries. Two articles I find particularly interesting are Florida’s Commercial Blueberry Industry and the Blueberry Gardener’s Guide. The former article covers major cultivars and where they tend to be grown, as well as information about how the blueberries you eat are produced.
However, the Gardener’s Guide might be more interesting for those who want their own backyard source of blueberries. It provides descriptions of several prospective cultivars to choose from, depending on your location and site conditions, and instructions for planting, fertilization and irrigation, pest control, and more.
Finally, if this has made you hungry, I’ll share my mom’s muffin recipe, copied from browning notepad to notebook to email over years:
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup blueberries
Mix in a large bowl and scoop into muffin tin. Bake at 400°F for ~20 minutes.
Want to know more about Florida berries? Just Ask IFAS.