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Guide to the Alaska Blueberry

If Alaska had a state fruit, our guess is that it would probably be the wild blueberry. Nutritious and delicious, blueberries are almost as much fun to pick as they are to eat. They can be found across the state in the late summer and early fall months and many low-key day hikes can easily double as blueberry-gathering expeditions. Wild Alaska blueberries are generally smaller and more tart than their cultivated counterparts, and in addition to being extremely delicious, they pack an extra nutritional punch.

Blueberry picking is one of the least physically demanding outdoor Alaska activities. Once you find a patch with plenty of berries, all you’ll need to do is locate a comfortable spot to sit down and start picking. Blueberries are quite easy to identify – they grow low to the ground on bushes with rounded green leaves and are grayish-blue in color. They often grow in close proximity to the smaller, darker crowberry, which is equally edible but far less flavorful. While many Alaskans guard their go-to blueberry picking spot like a coveted family secret, it’s not too hard to find a treasure trove on many popular hiking trails. Some favorites are Flattop Mountain Trail, Rendezvous Peak Trail, Peters Creek Trail and Eklutna Lakeside Trail.

Remember to always be cautious when foraging for your own food. While blueberries aren’t easily confused with any poisonous berry in Alaska, it doesn’t hurt to bring along a book to ensure your identifications are correct.

Once your bucket is filled with nature’s bounty, it’s time to eat. Wild Alaska blueberries are plenty delicious as a snack on their own, but using them in your favorite recipes can take things to the next level. A big favorite is always blueberry pie. This recipe from Alaska writer Julia O’Malley is the perfect inspiration for a family blueberry-picking adventure and this recipe published in the Alaska Dispatch goes back multiple generations.

If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, try this savory blueberry balsamic sauce drizzled over fresh Alaska salmon. And if you don’t have access to a kitchen while you’re here, simply throwing a handful in your morning yogurt or granola is a perfect way to kick off the day. You can also freeze your blueberries and use them throughout the entire winter, granted you don’t eat them all by October.

Whether they’re a trailside snack plucked straight from the bush or showcased in a gourmet meal, blueberries are definitely one of our favorite Alaska resources.

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