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Cultivated or wild, blueberries are the best for baking

When spread a bit of blueberry jam on breakfast toast, you are treating youself like Scottish royalty. Blueberry jam, the story goes, was invented in the court of James V. His French wife, Madeleine, brought her own cooks when she arrived at the castle in Scotland. The cooks harvested the local wild berries for a jam to wake up the court's tired palates.

The jam was actually called "blae berry" jam -- "blae" being the Scottish word for blue-black.

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Blueberries -- cultivated and wild -- flourish over much of the North American continent. They are harvested from the Canadian Maritime provinces to Florida, in Michigan, and from northern California to Alaska.

North Americans consume 105 million pounds of the frosty blues annually. In cultivated crop production, New Jersey is the leader with Michigan not far behind. Other states with significant commercial crops include North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon.

Maine leads the states in the wild blueberry harvest and Nova Scotia, or New Scotland, appropriately leads the provinces.

Here are a few favorite recipes. Royal Blueberry Jam 1 1/2 quarts blueberries 1 lemon 7 cups sugar 1 6-ounce bottle fruit pectin

Crush berries. Grate rind of lemon. Juice the lemon. Add rind and juice to berries. Add sugar and mix well. Place over high heat and bring to a full, rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add fruit pectin. Stir and skim off foam for 5 minutes.

Ladle immediately into hot, sterilized jars and seal at once with paraffin. Makes about 12 8-ounce jars. Orange-Blueberry Bread 2 cups sifted flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup blueberries 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 1 egg 3/4 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons oil

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Sprinkle blueberries with a bit of flour and toss lightly. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir in blueberries, nuts, and orange peel. Set aside.

Combine egg, orange juice, and salad oil. Add to flour-fruit mixture. Stir until just moistened.

Pour into greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes, or until lightly browned.

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