B.C.'s blueberry season still going strong, food columnist says

Summer may be over soon, but this year’s blueberry season is not.

Late start to summer means blueberries expected to be around till mid-September

Blueberry season in B.C. is expected to last until at least mid-September. (photo credit: @NipigonBlueberryBlastFestival)

Summer may be over soon, but this year's blueberry season is not.

Blueberries are Canada's most exported fruit, and B.C. produces about 96 percent of the country's entire supply. The late start to summer means blueberry farms will still be harvesting the fruit into the fall, On The Coast's food columnist Gail Johnson said.

"It's a distant memory now, but remember that long winter we had? Everything was off to a late start this year," Johnson said. "The good news now is that the season is expected to go until at least mid-September."

Blueberry farming is a thriving industry and the B.C. Blueberry Council represents over 700 blueberry growers in the province. Growing and picking the berries is not always an easy task though.

Johnson connected with a blueberry grower from Abbotsford, Wilhelmina de Jaegar, who runs the Fruit Basket farm with her husband. The couple came to B.C. from Holland nearly 40 years and now, semi-retired, are still busy with their two-acre farm.

"Her most daunting problem is keeping starlings away from her crops," Johnson said. "She strings silver and red streamers across the bushes, and those ribbons deter the flocks. It looks like a child's birthday party."

Blueberry foraging

With blueberry season lasting longer than usual, Johnson suggested Vancouverites visit a small farm that's open to the public, like Fruit Basket, and try their hand at harvesting the berries themselves.

"It's prime time to consider making a trip out to one of our local blueberry farms," Johnson said. "A little jaunt out to the Fraser Valley to hit a U-pick is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. It's a fun, interactive experience that helps them understand where food comes from."

Food columnist Gail Johnson recommended salad with blueberries as one option to feature the sweet fruit. (B.C. Blueberry Council)

Once you've collected boxes and boxes of blueberries, what do you do with them? Johnson said she freezes hers and uses them for blueberry-kale smoothies throughout the winter. She also mentioned featuring the berries in salads, tarts and pastries. 

With files from On The Coast.