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Sharon Kitchens

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com. When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse. In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more. Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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Posted: August 6, 2014

Wild blueberry season in Maine, plus a recipe for wild blueberry-oat scones

Written by: Sharon Kitchens - contributor - kitchens.sharon@gmail.com
Wild blueberries at Jasper Wyman & Co. in Washington County, Maine.

Wild blueberries at Jasper Wyman & Co. in Washington County, Maine.

Eating fresh picked wild blueberries out of my hand is one of the great joys of summer in Maine. Last year I had the privilege of venturing into Maine’s wild blueberry barrens with Nat Lindquist, formerly V.P. of Operations and now a consultant for Wyman’s, one of the largest wild blueberry growers and producers of frozen fruit in the world. We drove around the barrens, walked through the processing plant, and talked all things wild blueberries.

About ten miles from Wyman’s base of operations in Cherryfield, Maine the landscape opens up and I found myself driving down a two-lane road with acres of blueberry barrens spreading out on one side of the road and a “blue village” and processing facility on the other.  Behind 1,200 acres of nothing but lowbush blueberries are a line of trees and then more barrens and more barrens. Get the picture?

My first few years in Maine I was drawn to the iconic imagery of the families who hand pick the blueberries. In recent years, the images remain in B&W files tucked into the depths of my computer. The reality is migrant workers have taken over most of those jobs —and please note I’m making no political statement here whatsoever, just stating the facts. Sometimes referred to as “follow the crop” migrant farmworkers, they travel from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada going from one place to the next picking fruit. GQ published a great article on these workers, if you have time check it out.

Part of my tour of Wyman’s facility involved seeing the village where some of the 400 – 450 migrant workers the company employs live while they are bringing in the crop.  Blue cabins, RV’s, garments hung on clotheslines, a couple cantinas, and a food truck serving Mexican food (I was told for those with a  hearty stomach). It’s another world all together in that part of Maine and the fact is never so evident as in August during the harvest.

Where mechanical harvesting replaced hand picking, plastic boxes are used instead of the traditional wooden crates.

Where mechanical harvesting replaced hand picking, plastic boxes are used instead of the traditional wooden crates.

A mechanical harvester at Wyman's. A father and son were working the one in the picture.

A mechanical harvester at Wyman’s. A father and son were working the one in the picture.

To celebrate the harvest … a recipe for Wild Blueberry-Oat Scones from one of my favorite bakeries on the planet — Standard Baking Co. in Portland, Maine. Thanks for sharing Alison!!

Wild Blueberry-Oat Scones

Note: The most you can fit on a baking sheet is 6.  If you have only one baking sheet, position the rack in the center of the oven. The additional batter can sit at cool room temperature while the first batch is baking.  After the baking sheet has cooled you can bake the last round. Note that the second batch may be taller and rounder than the first because the oats have a tendency to absorb moisture as the mixture sits.

Makes 9 scones

2 1/2 cups flour (high-extraction or bolted whole wheat flour, but all-purpose flour is fine too)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/4  teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, chilled
3/4 cup rolled oats*, plus more for garnish
3/4  cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1 1/2  cups half-and-half (more or less depending on the absorption of the flour)
1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for garnish

  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulsing on and off about 20 times, blend until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (or combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the oats and the blueberries and toss everything together using your hands, until the blueberries are coated with the dry ingredients.
  3. In a glass measuring cup with a spout, combine the half-and-half and vanilla. Gradually add the liquid to the flour mixture using a rubber spatula or plastic scraper, mixing until the dough just comes together (the dough will be very moist).
  4. Using a 1/2-cup measuring cup for each scone, loosely scoop the dough and drop it in mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Garnish the tops with the additional oats, then dust them with the turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the scones have golden brown ridges and the centers feel firm, about 12 minutes longer. Transfer the scones to a cooling rack and cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Standard Baking Co. uses Aurora Mills Organic Rolled Oats

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