Last month, I traveled to Maine to learn about wild blueberries. I was a guest of The Wild Blueberry Association of North America, who covered my travel expenses and accommodations, but I was not compensated for writing this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
True to their name, wild blueberries grow wild–and have for thousands of years. They thrive in Maine, where they have to be strong to survive the sometimes-harsh climate. That means they’re loaded with compounds that protect them. And us.
Last month, along with a group of other dietitians, I visited Maine at the peak of harvest to learn about wild blueberries. Since blueberries are my favorite fruit, it was a thrill to be standing in a field of blueberries as far as the eye could see.
Wild blueberries are tiny in comparison to cultivated blueberries, the kind you buy in the produce section. They also grow very low to the ground instead of high on a bush. Since they grow completely wild and spread naturally, there are thousands of different varieties in every field–which means all sizes and shades of blue in a handful of picked berries.
Wild blueberries are tiny but mighty. They have a more intense blueberry flavor than regular cultivated blueberries. And they have the highest antioxidant capacity per serving compared to more than 20 other fruits (and twice the capacity of regular blueberries). They’re being studied for all kinds of potential benefits, from cancer prevention to heart health.
About forty percent of the harvest is still picked by hand, using these (heavy!) rakes, which we got to try out. It was hard work picking a small amount of berries. I’ll stick to eating them, thankyouverymuch.
If you’ve never noticed wild blueberries in the store, look in the freezer section. Most of the wild blueberry crop is frozen, either bagged up for consumers or sold to manufacturers for products like baking mixes and muffins. Our grocery store stocks them right alongside other frozen fruit.
These pancakes freeze well too: Just set them out to cool, freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet until slightly firm, then transfer into a gallon ziptop bag. When you want some, zap them in the microwave to take off the chill, then warm them in the toaster oven or microwave.
Wild Blueberry Pancakes
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
- 1/2 tablespoon butter melted
- Beat egg until light and fluffy.
- Add flour and remaining ingredients (through salt) and stir just until combined.
- Fold frozen blueberries into batter.
- While batter rests, preheat skillet or griddle. Brush melted butter onto surface.
- When griddle or skillet sizzles, drop batter on using a quarter-cup measure. When surface bubbles and bottom is brown, flip pancakes.
- Repeat process of buttering griddle and pouring batter until batter is done.
- Get more ways to cook and bake with wild blueberries using this recipe index.
- Get ten amazing smoothie recipes featuring wild blueberries (including a blueberry-lemon green smoothie from me!).
- Get recipes for 4 Make-Ahead Breakfasts