Did you know that the U.S. leads the world in blueberry production, at almost 200,000 metric tons in 2008? North America certainly dominates this market since the next largest producer is Canada with almost 95,000 metric tons. Poland is distantly in third place with almost 8,000 metric tons.
The states that cultivate the most blueberries are Maine and Michigan with the Great Lakes State slightly edging out the Pine Tree State. Maine’s lead is in the wild blueberry market; virtually all of Maine’s cultivated blueberries are processed while about half of Michigan’s are used fresh and the other half processed.
The acres of land harvested for blueberries has about tripled between 1980 and 2009. The grower price for fresh blueberries has doubled during the last fifteen years while the price for processed has plummeted. Perhaps this is evidence of the increased demand for these sweet and healthy little fresh gems of goodness?
For those of you who would like to learn more about the blueberry industry, the USDA has a great web site with lots of interesting data like the facts above. If however, all of this talk about blueberries has you ready to eat some, below is a fabulous recipe for crumb bars that I adapted to make refined-sugar free. It’s a great time of year to use blueberries! And if you still have a few fruits left over, might I suggest making some blueberry oat bran muffins as well. Happy native blueberry season!
Blueberry Crumb Bars
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon maple sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 2/3 cup agave nectar, both flours, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Mix in the oil and egg. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
In another bowl, stir together the agave nectar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer. Sprinkle with maple sugar, if desired.
Bake for 40 minutes or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares (about 16).
I am also sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.