We are in the middle of Maine’s wild blueberry season, which, thanks to plenty of rain and successful pollination (way to go, bees!) is projected to be a banner one. In Washington County, Maine’s wild blueberry country, pickers are busy harvesting the tiny native berries from more than 60,000 acres of barrens. Many of these berries will be frozen — you’ll find bags of them all year long at most supermarkets — but right now is the time to enjoy them fresh.
I grab wild blueberries by the quart wherever I find them: at a roadside stand on Route 1, at the Portland Farmer’s Market, or even occasionally at the grocery store. I eat them with my morning yogurt and love to bake with them, making the most of their short season.
Beyond those obvious ways to enjoy Maine’s favorite fruit, here are six other delicious ideas for getting your Maine wild blueberry fix. All of them are available in or near Portland.
Even better, in a warm, freshly made, mini blueberry Cinnamon French Toast Crunch donut. Valeri and Kevin Sandes use Maine wild blueberries in the cream filling and the blueberry drizzle on top of these little beauties, which they fry and fill to order in their food truck, Urban Sugar Mobile Cafe. I found them one afternoon parked on the Eastern Prom, near the playground (lucky kids), but they’re often in Congress Square Park earlier in the day. Check their Facebook page for the weekly schedule.
At the beautiful Black Point Inn in Prout’s Neck, they make their Maine blueberry martini with wild Maine blueberry-infused Black Cap vodka (from Maine Craft Distilling in Portland), Maine maple syrup, fresh basil, soda water and lemon. Sip one of these picture-perfect cocktails on the deck of the inn, with its stunning view of a quiet cove and crescent beach, and understand why Maine is “the way life should be.”
Until discovering Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, I wasn’t a fan of this fermented tea beverage. Now, there’s almost always a jug of their wild blueberry in my fridge, often mixed half-and-half with the ginger kombucha. As owner Eli Cayer recommends, I sip a small glass a few times a day for a B-vitamin and energy boost. If you haven’t tried it, stop by the tasting room, 200 Anderson St., for an education and samples. Note, with a teensy bit of alcohol, this is not a drink for kids.
Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream’s blueberry sour cream crumble flavor is no ordinary blueberry ice cream. Made with organic, locally sourced dairy products and wild Maine blueberries, it has a nice tang from the sour cream and chewy bits of streusel-y crumble. Paired with Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, it was like an extraordinary blueberry cobbler ala mode — in a handy cone (so much easier to eat while walking around the Old Port). Stop in to the shop at 51 Exchange St. in Portland, or one of the two locations in Bar Harbor.
Maine distillers know that wild blueberries play well with booze. Freeport’s Maine Distilleries launched the trend with their Cold River blueberry vodka, infusing Maine potato vodka with native wild blueberries for a real blueberry flavor. Blueberry Mead from Honeymaker Mead in Portland is made with organic, wild Maine blueberries and is suggested as an alternative to rose wine. In Union, Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery creates Oak Reserve blueberry red wine, Bleujolais and blueberry wines, as well as an aged liqueur, Blueberry Smash. Try them at the new Sweetgrass tasting room, 324 Fore St. in Portland. The newest blueberry-booze kid on the block is Blueshine — moonshine infused with wild Maine blueberries and maple syrup — from Portland’s Maine Craft Distilling.
Blueberry jam? You’re thinking, “Ho-hum.” Not this one. Stonewall Kitchen wild Maine blueberry jam may be sold well beyond Maine, but despite the company’s national success, don’t forget that this is a local (made in York) and very delicious product. Beyond topping your toast, it can be stirred into lemonade, dolloped onto plain pound cake, or used to sauce chicken or duck. Good stuff.