Meet Dan from Gourmet Blueberries, Hawke’s Bay

Dan

Dan is the Head Grower at Gourmet Blueberries who are one of New Zealand’s largest blueberry growers in New Zealand. They are based in the ‘fruit bowl’ of New Zealand in the Hawke’s Bay.

Despite growing over 30 different blueberry varietals, we specifically chose the Highbush blueberries for our Grower Series preserve. This berry was chosen as it is less seedy and delivers a great flavour; not over-sweet and candy-like, which some blueberries can be.

Dan tells us that blueberries are different from any other fruit plant you’ll grow. They like acidic soil and different nutrients because blueberry plants are an old swamp plant. The climate of Hawke’s Bay also allows the berries to ripen to their optimum.

The ultimate goal for Gourmet Blueberries is to sell to the fresh market. Healthy fruit from healthy plants, consistently year after year and delivered to the market at the right time of year.

Anathoth loved that with this project we were able to secure industrial grade berries which can be over ripe or too soft for fresh markets and may otherwise go to waste. This grade of fruit is perfect for our preserve making.

Once the blueberries make it to our site, we sort the fruit to clean it of any plant matter that may have been left. The blueberries go through our seasonal processing team where they are minced to achieve a more consistent and smaller fruit size and removes the ‘air pocket’ from the blueberry. This ensures we don’t experience flotation during cooking, where the berry floats to the surface and the preserve suffers from layers of jelly-like matrix at the bottom with floating fruit at the top of the jar.

Minimal sugar is added to ensure the fresh and subtle fruit flavour of the Highbush varietal is maximised. We also add a touch of pectin so we don’t have to boil the blueberries too vigorously which reduces the risk of caramelisation. This traditional rolling boil can result in over sweet, sticky jam compared to the desired lighter texture and flavour we aim for in Grower Series. The result is a preserve with a lower sugar content. Compared to traditional ‘jam’ which must have at least 65g sugar per 100g, our Grower Series Blueberry has only 52g per 100g, therefore it’s important these preserves are kept in the fridge to de-risk any mould appearing during usage.

We recommend our Grower Series Blueberry is best on a traditional light and fluffy scone. It is also exceptional as a topping or filling for baking. Try this vegan blueberry cheesecake slice which has a delightful almond oat topping. Enjoy!

Did you know…
  • 10 hectares are dedicated within the Old Farm Block for blueberry growing.
  • Gourmet Blueberries have 78 permanent staff.
  • It’s the Hawke’s Bay climate that makes blueberries grow well – cool winters with frosts (but not too cold) and hot, dry summers which together help produce high-quality fruit.
  • All of the Highbush blueberries are handpicked!

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