Blueberries are a big deal in the mitten state. A native plant that thrives in the acidic, sandy soil of the lakeshore, Michigan cultivates over 21,000 acres of the favored berry, with most farms right here in the southwest thanks to Lake Michigan’s moderating effect on air temperature. Regionally warmer winters and cooler summers allow for an extended growing season of early, mid and late-season varieties, effectively making Michigan leader in national blueberry production.
In addition to being just plain delicious, 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 tiny powerhouse: most antioxidants of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables; low in calories; high in nutrients (especially vitamins C, K, manganese, and fiber); and 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 fields 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 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.
Wash blueberries just before you eat or cook them. Washing too far in advance makes for mushy berries. 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 stacked in larger containers.
Fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10-14 days when refrigerated shortly after bringing them home from the farm.
Listed (and linked) below are our favorite farms within 5-25 minutes of New Buffalo.