A SWEET LAKESHORE ADVENTURE

Blueberries are a big deal in Michigan. A native plant that thrives in the acidic, sandy soil of the lakeshore, Michigan currently cultivates over 21,000 acres of the favored berry. Most of these farms are located right here in the southwest, thanks to regionally warmer winters and cooler summers caused by seasonal changes in lake temperature. This extended growing season allows farmers to raise early, mid and late-season varieties, placing Michigan as leader in national blueberry production.

In addition to being just plain delicious in every form, blueberries are regarded throughout the world as a superfood. You know this, right? But just in case, here’s a quick rundown of the health benefits of this little powerhouse: highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables; low in calories; high in nutrients (especially vitamins C, K, manganese and fiber); positive impacts on cardiovascular health, brain function and diabetes. Good and good for you! It’s no wonder the world loves blueberries, with emerging markets on nearly every continent.

Perhaps because of this global demand, we feel especially fortunate to enjoy blueberries grown in our backyard, by farmers we know. Even better, they invite us to walk the farm and harvest our own. A true farm-to-table experience families share year after year, we marvel at the privilege of this simple act.

A few tips before you go:

Call (or check the farm’s social media page) a day or two in advance. While the harvest season is generally early July to mid-September, weather conditions and u-pick volume may require brief breaks in availability. The farms we feature are all great about communicating closures.

Pick the blueberries that are really blue! Any trace of red or green means they need more time on the bush.

Let fresh-picked (sun-warmed) blueberries cool before you place them in a closed container.

Don’t wash blueberries until just before you eat or cook with them so they don’t get mushy. Even if you freeze them, wait to wash until you’re ready to eat.

Freeze blueberries in a single layer first. Once frozen, berries can be stored on top of one another in larger containers.

Fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10-14 days when refrigerated shortly after bringing them home from the farm.

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