Battle of the Blueberries: New Jersey vs. Maine

by Anne Maxfield on July 23, 2012

Accidental Locavore NJ Blueberries

Because it’s almost impossible to wash blueberries without tasting them (first one, then another, then…you know how that goes), while the Accidental Locavore was rinsing off some blueberries from Stokes Farm, I started nibbling. These were perfect New Jersey berries, big, round, robust. It got me thinking how much blueberries reflect their terroir. Think about it, so much of the Garden State is big, round and robust. From the Sopranos to the Jersey Shore and don’t forget the current governor, everything is very large and in-your-face. Whereas the same cannot be said for Maine. Like the blueberries, it’s wild, withdrawn and challenging. And where famous people in New Jersey are larger-than-life, in Maine they are thinner and more discreet. As a matter of fact, how many celebrities can you name from there? That’s what I thought.

But back to the blueberries. As much as I will probably be disinherited for saying this (yes, I hear the scratching out of my name as we speak), I love New Jersey blueberries! They are big, meaty and full of flavor. You can bite into them. Maine blueberries are small, very small and really only available for a couple of weeks in August. They have a good taste but I find because of the size, the ratio of skin and seeds to flesh is a little excessive. They also seem to be extremely fragile, or else they just don’t like long car rides, as every time I try to bring some home, they end up one step closer to being jam.

Accidental Locavore Raspberry Blueberry PieMy mother on the other hand, refuses to acknowledge any berries that come from south of the Maine/New Hampshire border. Her famous raspberry-blueberry pie cannot be successfully made (according to her) with interloper berries from a mid-Atlantic state. Me, I’ve grown to like and accept blueberries from either place, enjoying the plump ones from New Jersey as well as the tiny Maine berries. Whatever is in season is good by me! What about you?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Maxfield August 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

It’s funny, I never think of the UK as having blueberries, how very colonial of me! The black and blue jam sounds great! Mom’s pie is pretty amazing (even with rogue blueberries)!

Sam Bilton August 1, 2012 at 9:32 am

The UK does import blueberries from the US but who knows where they are grown (the label usually just list the source as USA!). The blueberry bushes in my garden are full of plump berries this year which are almost ripe. Last year I made some black and blue jam (blueberries and blackberries) which the boys loved. They also like blueberry, raspberry and white chocolate muffins. Your mom’s pie sounds divine – I’d love to give that a go!

Nancy Mehegan July 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I live in NJ, but there is something about Maine blueberries that is interesting… hard to describe.

carol segrave July 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I am originally from New Jersey. Now live in Southern California. I have been in SoCaL for 30 years so I can’t speak for the quality of NJ blueberries this year. I do have very fond memories of how good they were. I would like to put in a word of Santa Barbata Blueberries. They are my only option. They are large plump sweet in the middle of the season which is now. I buy organic of $3.59 for six ounces. The battle over organic vs non organic rages in SoCal. Here is an interesting message on the acidifiers used out here in organic and non organic. Coffee the acidifier of choice for the organic. NO wonder I prefer organic to non organic. What acidifier is used in the blue berry fields in Maine and New Jersey.

Is Santa Barbara Blueberries an Organic Farm?
There are two fundamental reasons why we believe certified organic is not the way to go for us.One is practical, and one is legal. The practical reason we are not organic is, we want robust, long-lived blueberry bushes with consistently great fruit. Our Highbush varieties of blueberries require pretty acidic soil to thrive. Since they are not native to Southern California, it isn’t a matter of planting them, fertilizing them and watering them. We pump a calibrated amount of agricultural acid into the soil under the berms at regulated intervals. Organic blueberry farmers in Southern California typically use coffee grounds- an organic acidifier- or something similar to it to keep the soil right. The great challenge with using organic acidifiers is that they are harder to calibrate with very much precision, and the acidity level of the soil will move up and down in shorter intervals. It is like binge eating for the plants, which is not healthy. Binge eating blueberry bushes will not produce consistently good fruit.

We respect the organic farmers a great deal, it really is a hard way to go with any non-native variety of plant. Native fruits and veggies are lot easier to grow organically than non-native varieties.

Cozy July 24, 2012 at 11:40 am

We had a taste test this weekend- NJ wins it!

Scott July 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Love blueberries from NJ 🙂

But there are lots of famous people from Maine. Stephen King, Nelson Rockefeller, longfellow, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The Genessee River Serial killer was born in Maine 😉

mercyn620 July 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

New Jersey blueberries are the best, especially eaten without any whipped cream or anything else! The fresher, of course, the better.

dusty July 23, 2012 at 11:42 am

I love New Jersey blueberries — they make handsome pies with lattice crusts — and at least two nights a week in the summer, my dinner is a pint of them mixed with half a pint of cottage cheese; but I have never washed a blueberry in my life!

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