Local Food Newsletter – May 2019

— Written By and last updated by

Welcome to N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center’s Local Foods Newsletter! This month’s edition will be focused on blueberries. Enclosed you will find fun facts on blueberries including: history, planting recommendations and variety choices, nutritional information, preserving and canning, and a tasty recipe. An interactive map is included below that is linked with Google maps. This map allows the user to click on their desired local foods operation and be given directions to the business. Following the map is a quick-reference table containing the local businesses in the area that sell local blueberries.

pics of fruits and veggies in season-May

Food Highlight


Fun Fact. This month’s highlighted local food is blueberries. Blueberries are named for their deep-blue color and are one of the few fruits native to North America, just like last months highlighted food: strawberries. Native Americans used the berries, leaves, and roots for medicine and the fruit as a fabric dye. Blueberries are still found in the wild today, although modern varieties are more commonly found and can be grown in many regions of the United States.  The United States is the world’s number one producer of blueberries, and North Carolina ranks seventh in the country in production. One factor that allows North Carolina to grow so many blueberries is the soil. Blueberries thrive in well-drained, acidic soil with water near the surface. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Currituck is home to numerous sandy soil types that drain well and are acidic.

blueberries on vine

Planting. If you’re interested in planting blueberries, they are easy to grow and can produce berries for multiple years. Two varieties that grow well in the Coastal Plain region are highbush and rabbiteye. Highbush begin ripening in mid-May while rabbiteye ripen in mid-June. To plant these varieties, you’ll first need to prep the soil. Blueberries do best in acidic soil, with a pH below 5.0. Soil tests are free this time of year and are an easy test that should be done prior to planting. Soil boxes and more information can be found at N.C. Cooperative Extension Currituck Center. To amend basic soil, add wettable sulfur (90%) to lower the soil pH.

When planting new bushes, dig a hole slightly deeper than the height of the pot and approx. 18-24 inches deep. If planting in clay soils, fill around the bush with a peat moss/ sand mix to promote drainage. You can also add pine bark or pine straw to the soil to lower pH. Place highbush bushes 4-5 ft. apart and rabbiteye bushes 6 ft. apart to ensure proper room to grow. Make sure to water every two to three days during the first few weeks as this is a stressful time for the newly transplanted bush. Prune approximately 2/3 of the top growth on bare-root plants and 1/2 on potted plants leaving only one to three of the most vigorous upright shoots. Remove any remaining flower buds so that the plants will not flower the first year. This will help promote growth and successful establishment of the bushes. Wait to fertilize until the first leaves have reached full size then apply one tbs. of a special azalea fertilizer (12-12-12 or 10-10-10) within a circle 1 ft. from the plants. Repeat application of the fertilizer at six-week intervals depending upon rainfall or irrigation until mid-August.


   Video from The University of Maine

Nutritional information. A cup of blueberries is a filling, low-calorie nutritional powerhouse of a snack. At only 80-calories, one cup of blueberries contains 16% of your daily vitamin C. They’re also full of dietary fiber helping you feel full after you eat. Other valuable nutrients packed into these delicious blue bundles include: vitamin K, magnesium, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are important chemicals that help reduce oxidative stress that is linked with aging, heart disease, and cancer.

Selecting Blueberries.  Choose blueberries that are firm, plump, and a royal blue color with a silvery “bloom.”  A dull appearance or soft, juicy berries means the fruit is old. Look for stains on containers, which indicate crushed or bruised fruit. The berries should be free of dirt, mold, or decay.

Blueberry Bloom.  You may be wondering why blueberries have a silvery or frosty coating. This is a safe, natural part of the berry and is not pesticide residue. In fact, it is a natural barrier against insects and bacteria that helps to seal in the fruit’s moisture. This coating is known as the “bloom” and is a sign of freshness since it fades with time and handling. For this reason, blueberries should be stored unwashed.

Storing Blueberries. Blueberries that are not going to be frozen should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator in a container with a lid for up to 1 week.  To freeze, place rinsed blueberries on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for 1 hour. Place in a container with a lid and freeze for up to 9 months.

bowl with fresh berry salsa

Fresh Berry Salsa


Ingredients:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Just before serving, stir in almonds.

This interactive map contains many of the businesses in Currituck that sell local produce. To view the map legend, click the small square box at the left of the map name. This should bring up a list of the direct sale markets, pick-your-own operations, roadside markets, vineyards and breweries, and N.C. seafood operations on the left. You can then click on the pins on the map or on the legend to view each local business. Each listing will contain a contact number, operating season and hours, and produce the business sells. If you click the View in Google Maps option below the description you will be given directions to the business from your current location.

Highlighted Businesses


The highlighted business section shows the businesses that sell the month’s highlighted local food. This month we have five businesses that will be open and selling blueberries. Information on those businesses can be found in the table below, or in the interactive map above.

Name Phone Hours Address
Seaside Farm Market (252) 619-8285 M-Su, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. 787 Sunset Blvd., Corolla
Tar Heel Produce (252) 491-8600 7 a.m.–6 p.m. 6954 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Powell’s Roadside Market (252) 339-9923 7 a.m.–8 p.m. 2138 Caratoke Hwy, Moyock
Grandy Greenhouse & Farm Market (252) 453-2658 8 a.m.–6 p.m. 6264 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy
Morris Farm Market Morris Farm Market 9 a.m.–6 p.m. 3784 Caratoke Hwy, Maple

For email reminders of upcoming Local Foods Newsletters, fill out this short form. If you have a local food operation you would like advertised in upcoming installments, please fill out our producer form or contact Adam Formella by email or phone at Adam_Formella@ncsu.edu or 252-232-2262.