It’s blueberry season and earlier this week some of us headed out of town to pick the latest delicious produce for our upcoming Farm Fresh installment: Blueberry Balsamic Goat Cheese ice cream! Our excursion took us north of the city to the quaint farm of Bow Hill Blueberries in Skagit Valley. The day was overcast as we ventured up there, but the sun soon arrived and danced in and out of the clouds, which kindly lingered to keep us cool once we were out in the fields.
Established in 1947, Bow Hill Blueberries holds the distinction of being the longest-running family-owned blueberry farm in the valley and they specialize in several varieties of heirloom berries. Since 2011 they’ve focused on improving soil quality and transitioning their fields to organic certification. Our lovely host, Susan, started us off with a tour of their processing, packing and cold-storage facilities. We enjoyed sampling many of their delicious blueberry products including fresh cold pressed juice, sauce, jam, and dressing, all available for purchase in their charming farm store.
Next, we took a tour through the fields where we learned all about the diverse range of berries they grow. One particular heirloom variety dates back to the farm’s establishment. They also have wild blueberries! Each type of blueberry has distinct qualities which makes some preferred over others depending on whether they will be used for jam, eaten fresh, or used in baking or in ice cream! Beehives are kept on-site and sunflowers dot the blueberry fields, their bright, cheerful faces peering up above the rows of blueberry bushes.
Equipped with buckets, Susan demonstrated how to ‘tickle’ the blueberries with just the fingertips then left us to our work. The tickling technique encourages the ripe berries to drop loose into the hand without damaging them. The waxy, silvery-white coating on blueberries is called the “bloom.” It acts as a protective coating against insects and bacteria while also keeping the fruit moist. It’s indicative of the fruit’s freshness and fades with time and handling. Tickling helps reduce handling and preserve the bloom!
We spent the afternoon tickling blueberries until our buckets were full so that our creamery can churn out our delicious Farm Fresh Blueberry Balsamic Goat Cheese ice cream! This ice cream is a delicious trifecta of fresh buttery goat cheese, sweet peak-season blueberries, and the complex, tangy depth of balsamic. All of our Farm Fresh ice creams are made with seasonal ingredients straight from the farm. Each one is limited edition and in limited supply! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know when this tasty treat hits the stores, then come by for a scoop at our Capitol Hill, Ballard, 108 Pine and Queen Anne cafes or for a pint at all of our locations, including our West Seattle and Madrona cafes. We’ll see you soon!