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Have a Blueberry Blast

They're cool, tangy, and sweet—all at the same time. Best of all, when you go blueberry picking you can just reach out and pluck them. They are so much easier to pick than strawberries. There's no kneeling in the straw and mud only to find that critters have eaten the underside of your berries. Besides being fun and easy to pick, blueberries are splendid for you, too. They are rich in vitamin C and other important nutrients. Blueberries are in season for Virginia from mid-June to mid-July, so grab a bucket to fill with sweet berries.

Fun Blueberry Facts

  • Blueberries are native American plants that grow from Georgia to Alaska.
  • Over the years, farmers have cultivated them so they produce larger berries.
  • A Native American name for blueberries is star berries.
  • Explorers Lewis and Clark shared a meal of meat pounded with blueberries with Native Americans while in the Northwest Territory.
  • Blueberries are the state fruit for New Jersey, and their wild cousins are the state fruit for Maine. Blueberry muffins are the official muffin for Minnesota and Washington State.

Make some Moo Muffins
This recipe comes from the Moo Milk farmers' cooperative in the United Kingdom. Make sure a grown-up is on hand to help with the oven.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup blueberries
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Stir together the flour, blueberries, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.*
In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat.
Gently stir in a variation listed below, if desired. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into paper muffin pan cups and bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Makes 12 muffins.

(*Interesting fact: British people spell some words differently than we do in America. For example, center is spelled centre, and flavor is spelled flavour.)

Places to find berries:

Cover to The Berry BookYou can pick your own blueberries locally at Westmoreland Berry Farm near Montross and in Caroline County at Mount Olympus Farm. Locally-grown blueberries are also available at the Farmer's Market in downtown Fredericksburg and in Spotsylvania County. Chincoteague Island is quite a few hours' drive from our area, but it is a favorite place to go to see wild ponies, made famous in Marguerite Henry's book, Misty of Chincoteague. Just before the pony swim, the islanders and out-of-town visitors celebrate the summer with a blueberry festival. If your family is in the area that weekend, be sure to come hungry for blueberries.

Berry Fun Books
Check out these books for berry good reading on a summer day:

The Berry Book by Gail Gibbons
How do berries grow? Gail Gibbons tells you and includes recipes for berry treats.

Berry Magic by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon
Young Anana uses a bit of magic to bring cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, and salmonberries to her Alaskan village.

Blueberries for Sal
In this classic picture book, two young ones—a bear and a child—lose their mothers during a day of blueberry picking.

Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears by Daniel Pinkwater
Daniel Pinkwater tells the very funny story of two muffin-loving bears who crash the annual Yellowtooth Blueberry Muffin Festival.

Jamberry
Silly rhymes about a day of berry picking for a boy and a bear are perfect for story time.

Jam & Jelly by Holly & Nellie by Gloria Whelan
Nellie and her mother work hard picking berries and making jam through the long, pleasant days of summer, but they have fun, too. A pretty picture book with several important messages about hard work, family love, and the value of an education from talented children's author Gloria Whelan.