I am always looking for new spots to find wild edibles. I recently bought a kayak and it has opened up a whole new way to forage. Every year I go foraging for wild blueberries, but this year I used my kayak to explore several lakes and found lots of high brush blueberries. Using a kayak allows you to maneuver into some secluded spots where the largest wild blueberries like to grow.
Identifying Wild Blueberries
There are generally two types of wild blueberries you will find in North America, high brush and low brush. You will find both types near lakes and low wet woodlands. Low brush blueberries like to grow low to the grown in small bush formations. The high brush blueberries grow higher above the ground in a large bush or shrub. Some can become quite large. The berries are small rounded in diameter and are dark blue to bluish-black. They look like the ones you find in the store, just a little smaller in size.
High Brush Wild Blueberries
Foraging for Wild Blueberries With a Kayak
July and August is the wild blueberry season in the Northeast. I loaded up the kayak and my foraging gear in the truck and headed out to one of my local lakes. I explored several lakes around my area and all of them have wild blueberries growing in them. Some lakes had better quality blueberries than others. I find that areas with limited sun and cool temperatures tend to produce the best blueberries. I like to start by paddling around the perimeter of the lake looking at all the shrubbery for signs of berries growing. Once I spot some wild blueberries I check to see if they are worth picking. Some bushes will grow very sparsely and are not work the time, but generally, you will find an area where the conditions are just right to produce some great looking berries. The nice part of foraging for blueberries in a kayak is you can pick right from your seat. I like to get a little adventurous and stand up in mine to reach the blueberries growing far up the shrub.
Exploring a Lake Island
Many of the islands on a lake also contain some quality wild blueberry bushes. I like to get out and explore some of the larger islands by tying down my kayak and walking around. The island I found was full of great looking high brush blueberries. So, I had the lunch that I packed and picked until I had enough to fill several small Tupperware containers.
Storing your Wild Blueberries
After I was done foraging for wild blueberries, I went home to store them. I try and pick enough to last me for a whole year. I like to eat mine in my oatmeal every morning and in a smoothy now and then. Blueberries freeze very well and will keep for a long time in the freezer. I like to wash them gently underwater with a strainer and remove any stems, debris, and discolored berries. I shake off any excess water and seal them using my Food Saver. Then the sealed bags go into the freezer for use later.
Check out my foraging page for more information on foraging books I use and some of my past foraging posts.
To properly identify the wild edibles I found in this post, I used this book:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide has all the plants conveniently organized by season, enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.
The North American Field Guide is available from these retailers:
Foraging can be a lot of fun, but finding new ways to do it is even better. I hope this post will motivate you to get out in nature and explore.