Get your big blues now!

Don’t be blue, eat Canadian blueberries. Now!

Because Ontario’s blueberry season started two weeks early, it will probably be over by the end of August, according to Foodland Ontario.

“With rare exceptions, there will be little supply by September,” says Stephen Bourne, supervisor of brand services.

The good news, he says, is that the quality is fabulous!

British Columbia is also having an amazing season.

After three weeks of hot, sunny days, British Columbia is thrilled to announce its biggest and earliest blueberry crop in five years, says Debbie Etsell, executive director of the B.C. Blueberry Council. B.C. blueberries are the top fruit exported out of Canada, she says, and the fertile 60-km blue wave around Abbotsford is the largest blueberry-producing region in the world. Last year B.C. harvested 95 million pounds of big blues, all picked by hand. This year the province’s 800 growers are aiming for more than100 million pounds.

Since 98% of fresh or frozen blueberries munched in Canada are from B.C. – the rest are exported to exotic places like China, Turkey and India – chances are you’ll find “Nature’s Candy” in your local supermarket between now and mid-October.

The best way to enjoy Canadian blueberries year-round is to buy them fresh now and freeze them yourself. It’s super easy – place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re solid, divide them into freezer bags. They won’t stick together, so you can take out as few or as many as you want.

Here’s one of Etsell’s favourite new blueberry recipes. For lots more, visit BCblueberry.com.

Classic Blueberry BBQ Sauce

I counted 2 cups of blueberries in a one-pint clamshell, so buy two for this recipe.

1 tbsp vegetable oil

¼ cup minced shallots or white onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

3 cups B.C. blueberries, fresh or frozen

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup tomato ketchup

¼ cup honey

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika powder

½ tsp dry mustard powder

½ tsp hot chili flakes or powder

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a large saucepan over low heat, heat oil and sauté shallot and garlic until golden, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients except lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 50 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and reduced.

Stir in lemon juice and let cool. Purée in a blender or with an immersion blender (love my Breville!), until smooth.

Great brushed on almost-cooked grilled ribs or chicken thighs. Makes 2 cups.

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