Throughout the month of August, farm stands selling fresh blueberries can be found along roadsides all over the state of Maine. You might notice when stopping to pick up a pint or two, that there are two different types of berries available .
The most obvious difference between the two varieties is the size. Low bush blueberries are quite small, and a very dark blue color. Low bush berries are commonly called Wild Blueberries and grow all over Maine, especially in craggy rocky soil. Low bush berries are harvest by raking, individuals move through the fields with metal scoops that have long tines on the end, scooping berries as they go. High Bush blueberries are much larger, about the size of a marble, and just a hint lighter than the wild varieties. The High Bush berries grow on shrubs that usually stand approximately four feet tall. Large berries are harvested by simply picking them as they become ripe. Though the low bush berries are what are traditionally called wild, high bush berries are also commonly found growing in the woods, or in fields, the result of being planted near long gone homesteads. Both make fantastic jams, though if you’re going for a traditional blueberry pie, the smaller berries are what you’ll want to pick up. Even if your berries are labeled as no spray or organic, it’s always a good idea to give them a little rinse before you dig in.
Not only are the tangy sweet berries delicious, but blueberries have received a lot of press over the past few years for their health benefits. Packed full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium, it is believed that blueberries may help prevent cancer and also posses anti-inflammatory qualities. Blueberries turn up on the list of super foods published by various health organizations with regular frequency.
Of course, in addition to buying boxes of fresh blueberries to enjoy, blueberries can be found on the menus in many restaurants in Boothbay Harbor. Pies, cakes, cobblers, cheesecake, mixed into salads, in chutneys, garnishes, and salsas, the choices are endless. The ice cream shops in Boothbay Harbor and in Damariscotta carry their own versions of blueberry ice cream, and some even have a pie-like blueberry sauce you can add to a sundae.
Luckily for residents and visitors in Boothbay Harbor, there are a number of places to get your blueberry supply in addition to the dozens of blueberry stands up and down the coast. The Boothbay Farmers’ Market, held each Thursday from 9-12 on the Commons hosts a number of vendors that carry blueberries, as does the Damariscotta Farmers’ Market held on Monday from 3-6 in the Rising Tide Parking Lot in Damariscotta, and on Fridays at the DRA Farm on Belvedere Road in Damariscotta. Hannaford grocery stores carry fresh, local berries, as does Rising Tide in Damariscotta.