Camden Premier Inns
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Camden, Maine, 04843, United States
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It’s Blueberry Time!

July 22, 2013

We’ve been talking a lot lately about all of the great events and things to do on a summer visit to Camden. While the possibilities are practically endless right now, another sure sign of summer in Maine is the arrival of Maine wild blueberries. The pints and quarts of this amazing berry are just beginning to show up in local markets, and we can’t wait to start eating, cooking and savoring each and every morsel. In fact, B&B guests are certain to find fresh wild blueberries showing up in pancakes, muffins, scones and more as they grace the breakfast tables of our inns.

While Maine is primarily known for lobster, our blueberries definitely place a close second. If you haven’t heard of a “wild” blueberry before, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about? What makes wild blueberries so special and so different from the conventional varieties?

Wild, or “lowbush” blueberries, are different from the larger “highbush” varieties in many ways. First of all, wild blueberries grow low to the ground and are not planted but spread by underground runners which then produce new shoots and stems. They are also naturally smaller and more compact (less water content) than cultivated, which means you get more berries per pound and they have a more intense, sweet and tangy taste than cultivated blueberries. Wild blueberries are great to bake with, because they hold their shape, texture and color through a variety of baking processes, and the small berries also freeze very well for excellent use all year long. Maine’s state berry also has the highest antioxidant capacity per serving, compared with more than 20 other fruits, including of cranberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries and even cultivated blueberries.

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Designated as the official state berry in 1991, wild blueberries are found mostly on hilly and rocky terrain from late July to early September in Maine, and are primarily harvested by hand using a special close-tined rake invented over 100 years ago. The wild blueberry, along with grapes and cranberries, is one of three fruit crops native to North America and commercially grown/known on a global scale.

Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world - the berries are grown on 60,000 acres statewide, primarily in fields and barrens that stretch along the Downeast coast to the state’s southwest corner. Adapted to Maine’s naturally acid, low fertility soils and challenging winters, most of the crop is frozen and used as a food ingredient. While less than one percent of the wild blueberry crop is sold fresh, there is nothing like standing in a blueberry barren enjoying a handful of these fresh, ripe berries!

Be sure to get out and enjoy Maine blueberry season while you can! Our local farmers’ markets and farm stands typically sell fresh berries throughout the month of August. The Camden Farmers’ Market is held every Saturday from 9-12 and Wednesday from 3:30-6 throughout the summer and early fall and offers fresh, locally grown berries, as well as a large variety of fruit and vegetables, and locally made cheeses, jams, jellies, soaps and more. If you’re a little more adventurous and would like to try out wild blueberry picking for yourself, there are also a couple of pick-your-own farms in the area:

Blueberries On Top
779 Barrett Hill Rd
Union, ME 04862
Phone: (207) 313-2944

Sweet Season Farm
77 Liberty Road
Washington, ME 04574
Phone: (207) 845-3028

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In addition, the Union Fair will host its annual Maine Wild Blueberry Festival at the end of August, with the Friday of fair week (August 23) being officially dubbed “Maine Wild Blueberry Festival Day.” Blueberry Day kicks off with a Maine wild blueberry pancake breakfast, free blueberry dessert samples, a blueberry spitting contest and more. In addition, fairgoers can indulge in all things blueberry at The Wild Blueberry Hut -muffins, pastries, and of course, the Maine staple, wild blueberry pie.

Even if you can’t make it here for the Union Fair or Maine blueberry season, don’t worry - we’re here to serve your wild blueberry needs all year long. In fact, you can be sure that many of our innkeepers will be freezing this summer’s berries at the peak of the season, so that you can enjoy them no matter what time of year you visit us!

And if you’d like to enjoy a bit of Maine summer goodness at home, try this recipe for Maine Blueberry Muffins from Swan House - one of their most requested recipes!