Powered by You and The Asbury Park Press

Archives
   Home
   Saved Search
   Logout
   Search Tips
   FAQ
   Pricing
   My Account
   Help
   About the Archive
   Terms

Document
Basic Advanced Saved Page Prints Help
Other Formats: Abstract Abstract Full TextFull Text Buy Page Print Page Print Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
Pickin' the blues
Asbury Park Press - Asbury Park, N.J.
Author: Jim McConville
Date: Jun 1, 2011
Start Page: n/a
Section: NJLIFE
Text Word Count: 929
Document Text

By Jim McConville | Staff Writer

Got blueberries?

Well, maybe not yet.

But with New Jersey's annual summer blueberry harvesting season arriving mid-June, it may be a good time to stake out your favorite blueberry pick-your-own farm in the area.

And while the number of state blueberry farms has dwindled throughout the years, there's still more than a handful of independent operators in Monmouth and Ocean counties and further south.

New Jersey, which last year ranked fourth in the country in blueberry production, harvested 49 million pounds on 7,500 acres with a value of $62.5 million, according to State Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lynne Richmond.

But what is it about the blueberry -- now designated the state's official fruit -- that brings out amateur pickers in droves each year?

One of the reasons cited for the berry's popularity is the multitude of health benefits purportedly generated by these pea-sized orbs.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined that blueberries ranked No. 1 as an antioxidant in comparison with 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful byproducts of metabolism called free radicals, which are associated with cancer and age-related diseases.

Recent USDA research also indicates that blueberries may help fight atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, as well help control cholesterol and fight colon cancer.

But documented health benefits notwithstanding, most people who perform this annual summer rite do it more to savor the taste of fresh blueberries. And those berries not eaten straight off the bush are saved as the key ingredient for a cornucopia of blueberry-based goodies. Besides blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and blueberry scones, there's now blueberry salad and even blueberry-laced pizza.

"There are a million recipes for blueberries -- cooking, baking, as a topping, whatever," said Roz Ressner, co-owner along with Michael Diehl of Earth Friendly Organic Farm in Millstone Township, which produces blueberries and blackberries in August and raspberries in the fall.

"I like to think that people come out to the farm for the experience," says John Marchese, co-owner with his mother, Susan Marchese, of Emery's Organic Blueberry Farm in Plumsted. "You get to take your children out and let them know that blueberries are grown on a bush and not in a supermarket."

"A lot of families that come out here want to be part of the farm, want to be part of the experience," Marchase added. "They want to pick their own fruit."

"I have 10 different variety of blueberries," Marchese said. "The main focus and core element to this farm the past 63 years has been blueberries."

Veteran blueberry pickers who visit Emery's Farm yearly typically ask to pick a specific variety of blueberry.

"It could because they either like the size, the texture, the sweetness or the flavor," Marchese said. "Each variety of blueberry that we grow can have significant differences."

While the state's official blueberry-picking season kicks off roughly in mid-June and runs through early August, Mother Nature sometimes has a say on the exact season dates. For instance, last year's warm spring produced an early harvest.

"It has a lot to due with the weather," Diehl said. "It's almost impossible to say that on June 23, we're going to have lots of blueberries.

Ressner advises potential blueberry pickers to call the farm a day or two prior to making the trip.

"When I send out 500 emails to customers, I may have a lot of blueberries," she says. "But within 10 days, those blueberries could be gone."

Perhaps the most popular form of blueberry consumption is eating them right off the bush.

"We get customers who come back who say, 'before we got home, the kids had already eaten them all,' " Ressner said.

And for those blueberry devotees who can't do without a fresh blueberry fix the rest of the year, farmers recommend that they freeze them.

"We encourage people to freeze blueberries for the whole winter," Ressner said. "They freeze beautifully. All you have to do is pick them clean, put them in a little bag, put them in the freezer and they're fine for months. Just take them out and use them."

Farmers say there's also a contingent of diehard pickers akin to rock star fans who cannot get enough freshly picked blueberries.

"We have a group of 'we'll be backers,' customers who will come several times during the three-month season," Ressner said.

Not surprisingly, blueberry farmers are biased toward their own crops, claiming they are heads above what consumers can pick up in their corner supermarket, mainly because of a question of timing.

"Blueberries (in a grocery store) might be a week or two old; they may not be as firm," Diehl said.

Supermarket blueberry suppliers also may pick berries too soon.

"If you pick one that's maybe a week before it's really ripe, it's not going to be as sweet or as tasty," Diehl said.

U-PICK-IT BLUEBERRYFARMS

MIDDLESEX COUNTY

Stults Farm

62 John White Road

Cranbury

www.stultsfarm.com

609-799-2523

Open May to October Monday-Friday: 3 p.m to 7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun.; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MONMOUTH COUNTY

Earth Friendly Organic Farm

17 Olde Noah Road

Millstone Township

www.earthfriendlyorganicfarm.com

Open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from late June through early September

609-259-9744

OCEAN COUNTY

Emery's Organic Blueberry Farm

346 Long Swamp Road

Plumsted

Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting mid June. 609-758-8514

Champion U-Pick

60 Cherry St.

Whiting

Open Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

732-350-4467

ID_Code: B3201110306010009

Abstract (Document Summary)

[...] documented health benefits notwithstanding, most people who perform this annual summer rite do it more to savor the taste of fresh blueberries. [...] those berries not eaten straight off the bush are saved as the key ingredient for a cornucopia of blueberry-based goodies. Besides blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and blueberry scones, there's now blueberry salad and even blueberry-laced pizza.

Other Formats: Abstract Abstract Full TextFull Text Buy Page Print Page Print Printer Friendly Printer Friendly

Most Viewed Articles  (Updated Daily)

Logged in as: john marchese
Log Out
8 accesses expiring on 09/10/2011.
Previously Viewed Articles
ProQuest