Until recently, most blueberries grown in the state were grown in Western Washington where the acidic soils match the blueberries native habitat. But in 2012 40% of Washington’s blueberries were grown in Eastern Washington where the dry climate minimizes pest problems. Eastern Washington now has about 4,300 acres of blueberries, mostly in Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Grant and Yakima counties.

Whatcom County, in northwest Washington, is the top blueberry producing county in Washington with 29.8 million pounds a year. Franklin County is second, producing 24.3 million pounds a year.

Did you know?

The United States produces more blueberries than any country in the world, and in 2012, Washington was the fifth largest blueberry producing state in the nation. 

About half of Washington’s blueberries are sold fresh, and the rest are processed.

Each blueberry bush can produce up to 500 blueberries. Only ripe berries are picked, so the same bushes may be picked four times during the season. Harvest takes three to four weeks.

Buying blueberries

Fresh blueberries are most plentiful during the summer months, but you will find them in the market all year round, along with frozen, canned and dried blueberries.

When purchasing fresh blueberries, look for firm, plump, dry berries with smooth skins and a silvery sheen. Size doesn't matter, but color does—reddish berries aren't ripe, but can be used in cooking. 

Avoid soft or shriveled fruit, or any signs of mold. Containers with juice stains indicate that the fruit may be bruised.

Health benefits of blueberries

One cup of blueberries has a mere 85 calories but packs a nutritional punch!  

That cup of blueberries has only .5 grams of fat, boasts 3.6 grams of fiber, and 25% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C!  Blueberries have also grown in popularity due to their relatively high content of antioxidants. 

Storing blueberries

Refrigerate fresh blueberries as soon as you get them home, in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or storage container. Wash berries just before use. Use within 10 days of purchase.

Freezing blueberries

Find a local blueberry farm!

Check out the Washington Blueberries website where you can find local farms that allow “U-Pick” – where you can pick your own blueberries!  They don’t get any fresher than that!  Blueberries are generally available for picking from late June through September.  Visit their webpage at http://www.superblues.net/index.html.