I grew up in a rural part of Prince Edward Island, where most everyone took wild blueberries for granted. At the time I did not even know that there was such a thing as a highbush blueberry. If a person wanted some fresh blueberries – during the season, he or she would simply go a nearby field and picked his or her own blueberries. I pretty much assumed that this was what people all over the world did as well. It turned out that we were the exception and that the wild blueberry was a rare and local gem. Here are the three main reasons that fresh wild blueberries are hard to find in outside Eastern Canada.
Reason One: The Wild Blueberry Has A Short Season.
The wild blueberry has an incredible short season lasting only a few weeks. It usually runs from the middle or latter part of August until the middle part of September. Fresh berries have a short shelf life so they seldom appear too far from where they are harvested. And this brings us to the second reason.
Reason Two: The wild blueberry is only farmed commercially in a handful of location.
Unlike many other produces, the wild blueberry is limited where it grows. The berry plants are not ideal for transplanting. And while the berry has been around since the last ice age departed, they are still pretty much found only where nature put them. In Canada, the commercial farming of the wild blueberry is limited to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec. Maine is the only state with a wild blueberry commercial industry.
Reason Three: The wild blueberry harvest is mostly processed and froze.
The fresh wild blueberries you see in the stores are only a very small percentage of the harvest. In order to preserve the berries and transport them, the berries are froze using the IQF (Individual Quick Frozen) method. This means that outside of Maine and the Eastern Canada, most people have probably never tasted a fresh wild blueberry.
The Good News
The good news is that since the berries are processed at the peak of their nutritional state, the frozen berries are actually a bit healthier than the fresh berries that have been sitting on the shelf in the supermarket. (Not to mention the cultivated berries that have been transported from as far away as Chile. So you can be confident that whether fresh or frozen, wild blueberries are still a healthy and nutritious choice.