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New Jersey State Fruit Soon Available in Stores, Farm Markets

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2004


Lynne Richmond




(TRENTON) – Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus today announced Jersey Fresh blueberries -- named the official State fruit for New Jersey last year -- are now in season and blueberry growers have begun harvesting.

The blueberry crop is a few days ahead of schedule due to recent slightly warmer than usual temperatures. Blueberry season typically begins in mid-June, peaks in July and ends in mid-August.

“From blueberry pie to blueberry iced tea, Jersey Fresh blueberries signal that summer is here, adding to all of New Jersey’s delicious and nutritious summer fruits and vegetables that are available for people to take home and delight their families,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Blueberries are so versatile, they are a favorite from breakfast to dessert.”

Last year, a total of 40 million pounds of blueberries were produced, generating almost $45.7 million in sales, the second highest amount on record for the state.

New Jersey is the largest fresh market blueberry supplier in the nation. The state ranks second in the country in number of acres of blueberries harvested.

“Consumers should look for Jersey Fresh blueberries in their stores and farmers’ markets and take advantage of the freshest, finest quality blueberries in the world,” said Secretary Kuperus.

The Department offered these tips for selecting blueberries:

· Look for blueberries that are plump and fresh looking;
· Pay particular attention to their color; they should be blue, black, bluish-black or purple;
· Blueberries have a gray, waxy deposit on the skin called bloom. The bloom is a protective coating, so do not wash blueberries until ready to use;
· Freeze blueberries on a cookie sheet and then place into a freezer storage bag. Do not wash before use;
· Blueberries spoil quickly if left at room temperature, but can be stored in the refrigerator for three days;
· Avoid containers that have juice stains on them, a sign the berries are crushed;
· Wrinkled fruit means they have been stored too long; while soft, watery fruit means the berries are overripe.

Following is a recipe for blueberries from Jersey Fresh Cooks, a cookbook available at local farm markets. The recipe was submitted by Patricia Mack of Hackensack.


10 cups cut-up Jersey Fresh blueberries, peaches, strawberries, plums (any combination)
½ cup granulated sugar, or to taste
¼ cup Laird’s Apple Jack (apple brandy produced in Colts Neck)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 TBS plus ¼ cup flour (divided use)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts (divided into ½ cups)
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Gently toss fruit with sugar, Apple Jack, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with 3 TBS flour. (If fruit is very juicy, drain some or add a bit more flour.) Toss gently. Spread fruit in prepared pan; set aside.

Topping: In food processor or blender, process ½ cup walnuts until fine; transfer to a bowl; add oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining flour. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into oat mixture until crumbly. Add remaining chopped walnuts. Sprinkle mixture evenly over fruit. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired. Serves 12.

For the location of farm markets or other information on Jersey Fresh, visit the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov .