Paint the Town Blue! It’s Blueberry Season!

Popping into a neighbour’s kitchen this week, I noticed the abundance of blueberries in her kitchen. She had just got back from a trip to a Richmond farm market with two ten pound boxes of blueberries. Right now is the time to load up on summer fruit and vegetables when they are fresh, local and plentiful – my neighbour certainly has the right idea!

Fresh local blueberries are bursting with nutrition and flavour right now. With a little preparation you can enjoy the harvest well into the winter months by simply digging into your freezer or pantry.

My favourite method for capturing the taste of summer is freezing – it’s a hassle-free approach, if you have the freezer space. Just lay out the blueberries or peach slices (or other summer goodies) on a cookie sheet – put in them in the freezer overnight then scoop them into freezer bags (or you could just take an ice pick to them after you’ve lumped them in a freezer bag – your call). If you don’t have a surplus freezer space, then canning is a great way to go, but it takes more time.

Dietitians of Canada put together some great healthy recipes including a super one for blueberry muffins in Bake Better Bites or eat the berries plain, frozen or thawed as a treat or on cereal in the morning to add a pop of flavour.

To find local produce in your area, you have a variety of options.  In the summer find u-pick and other local farms through buylocal.org or through the BC Association of Farmer’s Markets. Some grocers are also getting into the local game, so make sure to ask your produce manager about what’s local in the store, and emphasize your interest in buying local produce. By ‘voting with our feet’ and our wallets, we can help support our farmers.

Produce is also created in our own backyards. I have three different types of fruit trees in my yard, that luckily come into season at staggered times. In the two weeks that are the height of our apple harvest, I make a lot of apple sauce to eat through the rest of the year. However, if you are less interested in preserving or find you just have too much fruit to deal with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project and similar operations in other communities can provide volunteer pickers who will deal with your bounty, leave you as many pounds as you can handle and make sure that the excess goes to local charities that will get it to those who need it.

Similarly, there are many local organizations that hold seasonal canning workshops that can give you that first initiation to the mysteries of boiling and sealing jars. It’s great to get a group of people together canning to keep things moving in a smooth production line. ‘Pickle parties’ can become a part of your seasonal traditions and help to extend the how-to knowledge to other friends and up-and-coming canners from the next generation.

Eating fresh, whether from your own garden or a local farm, is always the healthy (and tastier) choice!

Samantha Hartley-Folz
Manager, Programs and Policy
August 2011

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