Blueberries of the genus Vaccinium are truly a Native American species. These plants are believed to be one of the first edible fruit bearing plants to be discovered by early man after the last ice age. The wild plants can be found in many different environments from Mexico, northward to Arctic plains. Some varieties were even discovered in parts of South America.
Native American people used the berries and plants for food and medicinal purposes for centuries. They cherished blueberries and much folklore developed around them. The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe told of how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to relieve the children’s hunger during a famine.
It is said that Native Americans gave blueberries to the pilgrims, helping them make it through their first winter. These early settlers were delighted to discover their benefits and incorporate them into their regular diets.
A favorite dish of the Native American was Sautauthig (pronounced sawi—taw—teeg), a simple pudding made with blueberries, cracked corn and water. Later, the settlers added milk, butter and sugar when they were available. The Pilgrims loved Sautauthig and it is believed by historians that it was part of the first Thanksgiving feast.
In the past century researchers have cultivated blueberries to produce today’s modern “highbush” varieties. These varieties have been enhanced to offer magnificent plump berries with deep, rich color and a delicious fruity flavor (what we find in our markets today). North America is currently the world’s leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production.
Here at BHN we love growing blueberries for eating and ornamental use year round. Because they’re so adaptable many varieties thrive in our unique climate. You too can enjoy growing, harvesting and EATING fresh blueberries by simply providing them with good sunlight, rich acidic soil and consistent water. This winter we are excited to offer another great selection of 9 varieties of these delicious and healthy treats, including newcomers ‘Pink Lemonade’ and ‘Jewel’. Give us a call, check our website, or come in for a list and descriptions of the different varieties we’ll be selling in January.