Text by Lisa Cavanaugh
If months had colors then July would be blue—as in blueberries. This is the time of year when our local blueberry harvest is in full swing. Across New England, wild blueberry bushes and farms full of cultivated varieties are bursting with sweet little globes, ready for picking.
At Hokum Rock Farm in Dennis, Massachusetts, Stephen Spears and Janice Riley work throughout the year lovingly tending to their nearly 1,600 bushes, culminating in a busy few weeks of harvesting every summer. During a tight window of ripeness from mid-July into August, the farm hosts a select amount of “Pick Your Own” days, which are extremely popular with both Cape Cod residents and seasonal visitors.
Every person, no matter what their age, loves picking blueberries, says Janice. “It’s something simple and soothing.” Getting ready for the opening of the season requires a lot of planning and work by the couple and their volunteer helpers, but they know how much their customers relish a chance to pick fresh fruit. “The berries ripen on the plant and get to full flavor,” adds Stephen “People just love these sun-warmed blueberries…they often just pop them in their mouths as they pick!”
Of course, if you can resist eating all of your blueberries, there are delicious culinary options for using them once you get home. In their newly released book, “Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm,” which chronicles the history of their farm and celebrates the natural environment that produces their blueberries, Spears and Riley have included a dozen recipes. “Patrons often share their favorite recipes with us, and friends bring us tarts and jams they made with our blueberries. They thank us for just having this farm.”
Hokum Rock Farm’s Blueberry Buckle
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening (or substitute 4 tablespoons softened butter)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Preheat oven to 375. Grease and lightly flour 9-inch square pan. Wash and drain berries and set aside. In large bowl, mix sugar, shortening (or softened butter), and egg thoroughly. Stir in milk. In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into large bowl and mix with other ingredients. Fold in blueberries carefully. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Prepare topping by mixing cubed butter into flour, cinnamon and sugar. You can adjust flour or sugar while mixing to achieve desired taste and consistency. Dab (or sprinkle) over berry mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cooled, cut into 3-inch squares and serve.