History of Blueberries

The history of blueberries can't be found in many classroom curriculums, but it parallels the history of human settlement of North America.

pre-1500s - First Nations peoples had already been using the blueberry for generations. They were eaten fresh in season, and sun-dried for out of season use whole or powdered. Powdered, they were rubbed into meat to aid preservation. They were also used in pemmican - a dried meat mixture or cake used for long journeys or through the winter months.

The berries, leaves and roots were used medicinally, and the fruit was also used as a fabric dye.

1600s - European settlers quickly integrated the familiar-looking berry into their diet. Native Americans taught them new ways to enjoy blueberries with other new local ingredients such as corn.

It was not until the Civil War that blueberries were widely used. Then they were canned and sent to the Union soldiers.

1800s - Blueberry cultivation began in northeastern Canada and the US.

Blueberries were picked by hand until Abijah Tabbutt of Maine invented the blueberry rake in 1822.

Blueberry juice was first canned in quantity during the civil war to be sent to soldiers.

1900s - Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville worked to breed a domesticated wild highbush blueberry. They selected desirable plants from the wild forests of the Northeast USA and cultivated them to develop blueberries that could be commercially grown by farmers.

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