Today, on National Blueberry Pie Day, April 28, we gather to celebrate the wonder of nature’s only true blue fruit baked into a doughy, buttery pastry. It just so happens that, at the time of this holiday, the first plump berries in North America will be coming into season, ripe for the plucking, ready to be sugar-powdered and baked. This underappreciated dessert has deep roots in American colonial history, and we mean to tell you all about them over a steaming slice of syrupy blue delight.
History of National Blueberry Pie Day
The blueberry pie, which usually consists of a classic pie dough filled with a berry mixture as well as sugars, flour, and lemon juice, is sort of a victory dessert. Before the U.S. became an independent country, Native Americans lived off the land and used blueberries, which they called star berries, as a source of survival.
In modern times, we look to blueberries as a cutesy addition to ice cream or a nutritional addition to our morning smoothies. Back in the colonial days, Native Americans crushed and dehydrated the small purplish spheres and used the resulting powder as a supplementary boost in their foods all year long. Now recognized as a superfood, blueberries are packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium, and vitamin C. Some historians speculate that without the blueberry, the earliest settlers in North America may not have survived their first winter in the new country.
As civilization continued to expand and farmers began growing produce at a much higher rate, American settlers were no longer so hard-pressed for nutrients and could begin to use the friendly fruits for their flavor rather than their sustainable nutrition. It was in these times, the late 18th and early 19th centuries, that the blueberry became the sweet dessert feature that we celebrate today.
The original blueberry pie was baked with wild Maine blueberries from (you guessed it!) Maine, where the fruit grows liberally without much assistance from farmers. To this day, the blueberry pie is Maine’s national dessert. Though apple pie seems to have cemented itself as the most stereotypically American dessert, we believe that blueberry pie is as vital to our nation’s (dessert) history as the blue rectangle on our flag.
National Blueberry Pie Day timeline
The first blueberry pie recipe is published by a woman named Mrs. Bliss in “Practical Cook Book.”
The Wyman Canning Company shifts from preserving seafood in tin cans to preserving wild blueberries — they are still the best known frozen and canned fruit provider in New England.
Helen’s Restaurant is founded in Machias, Maine, and will go on to perfect a blueberry pie recipe that is touted as the best in the world.
Fifth-grade student Megan Frank persuades Maine’s legislature to vote blueberry pie as the state’s official dessert.
National Blueberry Pie Day FAQs
Do I have the ingredients to bake a blueberry pie?
Chances are, you do. All you’ll need is flour, butter, egg, sugar, and a healthy dose of blueberries.
Is blueberry pie better cold or warm?
Pies warmed up before serving are more comforting to eat. But all that hot sugar can be dangerous, which is why it is important to let your freshly baked pie cool for about an hour, and serve it when it is just a little warm.
When was the first blueberry pie made?
The first published use of the word ‘blueberry pie’ may have appeared in “New England Farmer” in November 1829, and only in passing.
How to Celebrate National Blueberry Pie Day
Visit a blueberry patch.
Lots of family farms in states all across the country are open during harvest season for guests to arrive, buckets in hand, and collect their own berry stock. Rather than just snagging a carton of berries in the produce department, you’ll be supporting a local business and learning about where the berries originate.
Bake a pie!
There’s one very straightforward task that you simply must accomplish on this holiday — have a slice of blueberry pie. And why not go through the whole process of creating your own? Here’s a tip: To avoid a runny pie, incorporate a bit of cornstarch in with your blueberries before baking.
Surprise a neighbor.
Surely you know someone that could use a little spring pick-me-up. Baking two pies won’t take any additional time, and you’ll be able to help another person celebrate the holiday along with you. You may even make a new neighborhood friend!
5 Facts About Pie That’ll Give You A Sweet Tooth
There are crust conflicts
One of the number one pie issues is keeping the crust connected to the filling — some bakers swear by baking the crust on its own first before filling, while others insist on putting the crust in raw with the pie intact.
It used to be functional
Back before refrigerators, the crust on top of a pie was meant to help preserve the filling — by covering the fruits inside with a hard covering, families could keep them fresh for longer.
Pilgrims used them to save
The reason pie was such a dinner staple in colonial times is that it took far less time, effort, and money to make than bread.
It has savory ancestors
The first pies, baked in Britannia centuries ago, were originally filled with savories such as meat and vegetables.
They make wonderful canvases
Due to the malleable nature of pie dough, bakers can make beautiful designs out of their top crusts.
Why we love National Blueberry Pie Day
It expands our palates
Though blueberry pie used to be an incredibly common dessert, its loss of popularity has left it in obscurity. We love this holiday because it offers us a chance to bake a delicious dessert (with health benefits!) that we probably haven’t eaten in a while, if ever, and we always love trying something new.
Eating blueberries in spring just makes sense
The environmental impact of consuming fruits and vegetables that are out of season is massive, but we don’t have to worry about any of that on this day. The scrumptiously sweet festivities conveniently take place at the perfect time of year for picking ripe wild berries, which means we could actually be helping by luxuriating in these indigo juices.
Revival of a culinary art
In the 21st century, the desserts of the day are cookies, cakes, brownies, and of course, ice cream. Pie, as delicious as it is, seems to have fallen by the wayside. But, this late April, we’ll have the chance to pull out the flour, butter, and our freshly harvested berries and try our hand at this lovely sensory culinary art. Yum!
National Blueberry Pie Day dates