PEMBERTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It’s National Blueberry Month and peak season for the popular fruit.
CBS2’s Cindy Hsu visited Haines Berry Farm in Pemberton, New Jersey, where people can pick their own.
“I make jams with them, pies. I like them with sour cream, which a lot of people don’t like, but I personally like them with sour cream,” blueberry lover Karen Ayrer told Hsu, adding the bigger the berry, the juicer.
The farm had everything from blueberry mustard to blueberry honey and blueberry soap.
The commercial growing of blueberries started in South Jersey thanks to a local woman who began shipping them in 1916.
“Elizabeth White was the first person to cultivate blueberries at Whites Bog over in Browns Mills, which is only a few miles from here,” farm owner Timothy Haines said.
It’s now the Garden State’s No. 1 crop, with a production value of nearly $84 million a year.
The United States is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s blueberry supply, and New Jersey ranks in the top six places nationwide when it comes to blueberry production.
Haines’s grandfather bought the farm in 1954 and showed Hsu the best way to choose blueberries once they’re in the store. He said make sure they’re all blue – you don’t want any green or red ones hiding in there – and look for a white coating around the berry.
“They should have this white bloom on them, and that’s a naturally occurring yeast. And it just makes them more attractive,” he explained.
There should be no juice on the bottom of the container. If there is, it’s a sign that the berries have been around too long.
Haines said there are hundreds of different varieties of blueberries, but the most popular are Duke and Blue Crop.
Jeff Devends, of Toms River, said he loves them all.
“Luckily, they don’t weigh us before we start, because we’ll probably eat more blueberries than we actually pick,” he said.
Blueberry season in New Jersey lasts through the end of July, so you still have a few weeks to enjoy the locally grown berries.
Experts say blueberries last around a week in the refrigerator. But if you freeze them, they’ll last a year.