I am interested in knowing if anyone has favorites in terms of best tasting high bush blueberries. I am not interested in low bush or small wild types, but larger fruited high bush types that are hardy in zone 4b. Thanks.
Several threads are hiding in the back pages that cover this question in some detail. Suggest looking at Blue Ray as a starting point.
Patriot and BlueRay are two good ones.
But, I have lined up a ‘blueberry tasting’ of several varieties before…
without posting what each were…and after trying 2 or 3 just about everybody got so confused and many said “they all taste about the same to me”.
You would have to check hardiness, but my favorites for eating, cooking and freezing are Patriot, Chandler, Elliott, Toro, and Nelson. Jersey is pretty good too.
Let’s start with what blueberry varieties will do well in your zone. Then you can narrow the list down to the ones you like.
This is one of the conundrums of tomato growing. It turns out that most of the people eating tomatoes have very little ability to discern flavor nuances, but huge ability to detect sugar. Extending this a bit, people who enjoy eating tomatoes break down into 4 groups:
- Rich flavored tomatoes with little sweetness (Akers West Virginia, here I come!)
- Very sweet tomatoes (Sungold lovers)
- Tart tomatoes (usually people who enjoy the taste of raw lemons, Jaune Flamme eaters)
- Balanced flavor tomatoes (I’m one of these, need some sweet, some tart, and a whole lot of rich flavor, love Crnkovic Yugoslavian)
I suspect blueberry tasters will break down into similar groups. This is a bit depressing. It reminds me that most people love to eat sweet apples missing the nuances of tart, fruity, and aromatic flavors.
Maybe worth mentioning that some people are “super tasters” meaning that they have more taste buds than normal and can discern flavors most people miss. I know one person like this (other than myself) and he is able to discern flavor nuances on an entirely different level. For him, life is a non-ending search for new, unusual, and unique gastronomical delights. He gave me seed of some of his favorite tomatoes and to his credit, I thoroughly loved every one.
I’m a big fan of Blue Jay.
Taste is very subjective. I like to break them down into two categories. Complex and simple. Sweet and tart can be added to the description. I myself like tart fruit, but also like very sweet if flavor is good too. Just sweet is repulsive to me. By simple I mean the flavor is on one plane. It is flat, tastes the same from start to finish. Complex means we have degrees of various flavors. Usually a starting flavor and a finishing flavor. Such as Pineberry strawberries. Which start out citrus like, even pineapplely and finish with a traditional strawberry flavor. Most excellent! They do lack firmness, else they would be the perfect strawberry. And to me the best to grow is “White D” it is the largest and most vigorous grower of all of them.
For blueberries I found Cara’s Choice and the silly named Ka-Bluey to have the most complex flavor. Both are probably not hardy enough for your zone. The other suggestions mentioned are good ones. I would add Spartan and Legacy to that list. I will always grow Chandler, Spartan, Legacy, Cara’s Choice, and Ka-Bluey here. Most excellent berries from all. I’m testing Draper and Northland. Both MSU cultivars. No comment yet. They are in a different garden under severe conditions. We will see how they do?
I’m with you on the flavor categories. With tomatoes, I find there’s a time and a place for each one, but I generally prefer something balanced. I’m maybe not a super taster, but better-n-average taster for sure. I do know there’s blueberries I’ve liked better than others, but I’ve never seen them labeled as per variety, so I haven’t been able to systematically compare. I’ve also noticed at times that berries from the same, unidentified bush will run the spectrum from very tart to very sweet depending on where they are in the ripening curve (all with full color). Haven’t found one I truly disliked, though.
Some of mine lose tags, or I just forget
But, there’s not a tremendous difference in most.
The Maine lowbush have more flavor, and some old varieties such as Jersey.
And there’s some peculiar ones, such as Razz or PinkPopcorn. Or Aurora.
And Elliott is so hard to grow to perfection…although that perfect one is light blue, soft and pure sweet (most are sour as they turn blue well before ripe and if there’s a drought and no irrigation, good luck as you may even spit them out from dry bland and shriveled up)
I’ve spent more time on getting a spread of ripening times than going for particular flavors, I find all of the ones in the current trade pretty good. You can get 2.5-3 months of blueberries if you get the earliest and latest ones. I’m adding aurora this year if I can find it locally to get an extra week or so at the end after elliott. edit - aurora is quoted as either zone 5+ or zone 4+, I’d look for a local report to be sure it works. within your good local stuff though, think about a spread of times
this osu document has a good ripening order chart
I get blueberries the full season. It is really nice for sure.
Thanks Drew. I have tried about 150 varieties of tomatoes so I can identify with what you are saying. The only two blueberries I have eaten besides wild ones that were on the sweet side were Draper and Duke. They were grown in Oregon so I am not sure if they will develop the same sugars as they did in the more cloudy summers here in upstate NY.
That is a helpful guide. Thank you.