COLUMBIA FALLS — Everyone knows the saying “As American as apple pie.”
In Maine, though, the saying really should be “As American as blueberry pie.”
Says who? Addison baker and nutritionist Marie Emerson, who observed National Blueberry Pie Day last Wednesday, April 28. Emerson estimates she has hand-baked about 25,000 blueberry pies in her lifetime. Before retiring six years ago, she taught culinary arts, nutrition and hospitality at Washington County Community College in Calais for 30 years.
For 20 years, she has operated Wild Blueberry Land, the blue geodesic-domed shop on U.S. Route 1, in the Washington County town of Columbia Falls. The family-run gift shop, known for its freshly made wild blueberry pies, is an institution for locals and visitors. This summer, the pies will be sold through a takeout window.
“There’s a saying, ‘As American as apple pie,’ Emerson says. “But really, the saying should go, ‘As American as blueberry pie.’” She notes apples are native to the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan while blueberries are indigenous to Maine, growing wild in an ecosystem formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago.
Open 100 days a year, Wild Blueberry Land sells about 30 blueberry pies daily on average, Emerson says. Over 20 years, that puts the shop’s pie-production closer to 60,000 to date. “So, I’ve probably baked more than just 25,000,” she said.
Emerson hasn’t baked all those pies alone. The enterprise entails a lot of dough-rolling and crust-pinching. So, every summer, she hires college-age assistants to roll out the dough and pinch the crusts.
Emerson’s pies are famous for their sweet flavor — yet she uses very little sugar.
“Blueberry pies are a healthy dessert because they are low in sugar,” she explained. “I use lots of wild blueberries. You’re getting a lot of fruit.”
Emerson’s passion for Maine’s best-known fruit led her to form a nonprofit institution in 2017. Her vision finally is bearing fruit.
With the wild blueberry’s rich history in mind, she has been busily converting her family’s spacious Route 1 establishment into a museum. The Wild Blueberry Heritage Center and Museum will hold its grand opening July 21. And yes, her wild blueberry pies will be served at that special occasion.
For more info, call 483-2583, email [email protected] and visit wildblueberryland.com.