top of page

Minnesota’s State Muffin and Its Star Ingredient: The Blueberry

Blueberry season may be over this year, but as you reflect on this past year and contemplate what to plant next year, a beverage with a nice, big, blueberry muffin may inspire your garden plans. Is your mouth watering yet? Read about the blueberry muffin, some interesting information about growing and picking blueberries in Minnesota, and you’ll also find a couple of bonus recipes to try this winter!

By Lisa Olson, Master Gardener

Minnesota’s State Muffin and Its Star Ingredient: The Blueberry


 All 50 states have state symbols - some more than others. (Looking at you, Texas, with at least 70 state symbols!) Only three states, however, have a muffin symbol. New York chose the apple muffin, Massachusetts has the corn muffin, and in 1987 a group of elementary students from Carlton, Minnesota, near Duluth, began their quest to secure the blueberry muffin as the Minnesota state muffin. It was really an exercise in learning about the legislative process. And educational it was. Their first assignment was to choose the muffin flavor that best represented Minnesota. Blueberry was the students’ muffin of choice - fitting, since blueberries are grown across the state. After multiple trips to the capitol during the next session to watch the process of passing bills, the blueberry muffin eventually made its way through in 1988. Perhaps it helped that the “Blueberry Muffin Gang” from Carlton brought muffins for all the legislators on one of their trips in order to help their cause.


Minnesota is home to two native blueberry plants: lowbush (Vaccinium angustifolium) and velvetleaf (V. myrtilloides). They are mostly found in the northeast part of the state, but they can be found across the state from the northwest to the far southeast corner as well. Wild blueberries are generally much smaller than cultivated blueberries so growing blueberries commercially in Minnesota was a challenge because of the cold climate. That changed when the University of Minnesota began researching and breeding cold-hardy, large-fruited cultivars in the 1960’s. Larger berries, taller plants making picking the fruit easier, and breeding for harvesting over a longer season have all greatly improved the commercial production and also provided home growers with more varieties to choose from. The University of Minnesota even cultivated a pink variety. Yes, a pink blueberry!



If you are interested in growing blueberries at your home, the University of Minnesota is a great resource to help you select the right plant for your conditions, and for planting and maintaining tips. Here are some quick facts to get you started:


Not interested in growing your own? You can still pick your own. There are numerous pick-your-own farms in Minnesota. If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can pick wild blueberries. Minnesota state parks, Superior National Forest lands, state forest lands, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area all actually allow berry picking for personal consumption. If you pick an abundance, they freeze well so you can enjoy them all year.


Here are a couple of recipes to enjoy. Even though blueberry picking season in Minnesota ends in July or August, blueberry muffins are always in season. The muffin recipe is the official state muffin recipe from the Minnesota Secretary of State website. The pie recipe is especially good for fall and winter occasions with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. You will need some fresh blueberries, so thankfully it is always blueberry season somewhere in the world! The combination of fresh and cooked berries make this pie unique and especially delicious. Enjoy!


Blueberry Muffin Recipe

By Shari Baker, Gunflint Pines Resort


2 c. Flour

½ c. Sugar

1 T. Baking powder

½ t. Salt

1 T. Orange zest (grated peel)

1 c. Blueberries (fresh, dried, or frozen—Do not thaw or rehydrate)

1 c. White Chocolate Chips (*optional, but great!)

1-¼ c. Buttermilk

1 Egg

½ t. Vanilla 

Sugar in the Raw (large-grain brown sugar)


Preheat oven to 425F. Mix buttermilk, egg, and vanilla; set aside. Mix dry ingredients, orange zest, blueberries, and white chocolate chips. Make well in center, pour in liquid mixture, and stir lightly just until mixed. Spoon into lined or greased muffin tins. Top with sugar in the raw, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Makes a “baker’s dozen”.


New England Blueberry Pie


4 c. fresh blueberries

½ c. sugar

½ c. brown sugar, packed

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. cinnamon

⅛ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. salt

1 8-9” baked pie shell


In a saucepan, combine 2 c. berries with sugar, flour, butter, lemon juice, and all the spices and salt. Cook over low heat to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until thick. Cool. When cool, add the remaining 2 c. of blueberries. Transfer all of the blueberry mixture into the cooled pie shell. Chill pie. Serve with whipped cream.




Photo credits: Minnesota Secretary of State (1), Courtesy of University of Minnesota (2), University of Minnesota Extension (3)

bottom of page