Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Blueberry season can’t come early enough for me. Every spring I savor strawberries as I look for the first local blueberries to appear, but this year I got lucky. Before the local blueberries were in early season and ready to be picked, I found Weeks Bay Plantation’s blueberries in May at Whole Foods.
Weeks Bay Plantation is an organic blueberry farm in Fairhope, Alabama, so their season is a bit ahead of ours. Weeks Bay Plantation is home to LA Berry Farms, which provides berries to commercial Fresh Market customers along with individual customers through a pick-your-own operation. They grow 15 varieties of blueberries that are certified USDA Organic and highly nutritious. U.S. BRIX method measures how healthy a plant is and the density of its fruit’s nutrients. The national average is 11.3, and their score is 15. LA Berry Farms also provides berries to restaurants across the Southeast.
Weeks Bay Plantation is also an outdoor event venue with two concert spaces and a lake on 88 acres in Fairhope. The farm provides agricultural education, outdoor entertainment, and organic lifestyle. The venue hosts weddings, concerts, corporate events, and private parties, and they have three cabins for rental for an extended stay.
My son, Jordan Copeland, first turned me onto Weeks Bay Plantation’s organic blueberries, when he bought them in Pensacola at Ever’man Cooperative Grocery and Cafe. So when I saw them in Whole Foods, I immediately bought a box. One taste and I knew why he recommended them. They were not only among the biggest blueberries I had ever seen, but the thin skins were also bursting with juicy blueberry flavor. I bought more blueberries than we could eat, fearing they would suddenly be gone for another year.
It seemed a shame to freeze these beauties, but I will soon be glad I did. To freeze, Weeks Bay Plantation suggests the following procedure, which was easy to do. Do not wash the blueberries. Put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in freezer bags. Wash berries after thawing. The end of Weeks’s season coincided with the beginning of our blueberry season, so I now have fresh and frozen blueberries for a bit longer, while looking forward to blackberry season.
In addition to breakfasts, fruit salads, and desserts, I love adding them to the bottom of Champagne glasses. After sipping the Champagne, the berries are soaked in Champagne and make a nice treat to what would have otherwise been the sad bottom of an empty glass. Cheers to extending blueberry season!