It's blueberry season, and this year, both tame and wild, the berries are luscious and plentiful. You can also pick them at local berry farms (like 523-6112, among others).
Those succulent little blue orbs with their distinctive tart-sweet taste are repeatedly ranked in the U.S. as second only to strawberries in fruit consumption. They're high in antioxidant capacities, good for the nervous system, have cardiovascular benefits, increase the thinking process (honest!), help with blood sugars, improve eye health and have anti-cancer benefits. Both the wild and farm grown berries possess the same healthful aids.
More than anywhere else in the world, blueberries are native to North America, and most heavily populated with the tasty fruit are Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and North Carolina. World-wide, an average of 550 million pounds are picked and consumed annually.
For picking, choose the deep blueberries that are firm with a uniform hue. Eliminate those that are too soft, damaged, dull in color or moldy-looking. Before storing them, remove any crushed or moldy berries. Don't wash them until they're ready to be eaten. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, but they can also be frozen (with a slight change in taste and color while retaining their healthy nutrients) for up to a year.
A few quick serving ideas: Add them to your breakfast shake in a blender. Give a nice punch to cold breakfast cereals. For a deliciously elegant, easy-to-make dessert, layer yogurt and blueberries in wine glasses and top with crystallized ginger. Sour cream (less calories) topped with brown sugar is a nice alternative. Oh, hey, just chomp on a handful of good health au naturel.
Use blueberries in more recipes - located either in the web pages under their name or in recipe books like "The Joy of Blueberries," found in many local book stores. In fact, most any complete recipe book also will include one or more blueberry goodie.
Here are some samples from "The Joy of Blueberries" and various web pages:
PINEAPPLE-BLUEBERRY FLUFF PIE
(Can also be made in a purchased graham cracker crust.)
1 1/2c graham cracker crumbs mixed with 2T pwd. sugar
1/4c granulated sugar
1/3c melted butter
1 1/2c blueberries mixed with 2T pwd sugar
20-oz can crushed pineapple in juice (not syrup), drained
sm. pkg. pistachio instant pudding mix
8oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Mix all crust ingredients; press onto bottom and sides of a glass pie plate. Chill. Sprinkle berries into crust. In a bowl, stir pineapple and dry pudding mix until blended. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon mixture over berries. Refrigerate, chill well. Store in refrigerator. (eight delicious servings)
1/2c yellow cornmeal
1T baking pwd
2/3c cold butter
3/4c fresh blueberries
1 beaten egg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking pwd. Cut in butter until mix resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk. Stir in berries. Form into dough, adding more flour if necessary. Divide dough in half.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Shape each half ito a 1-inch thick circle. Score each half into 4 equal wedges (do not cut all the way). Place on a buttered baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg.
Bake 20-30 minutes (until golden). Separate scones while warm. Serve warm with soft butter or blueberry jam.
LOW CAL FRUIT CRISP
1 small pear, cut up, unpeeled
1/2c fresh blueberries
2T packed brown sugar
2T whole wheat flour
1T quick cook oats
1/8t apple pie spice
1T butter or light oleo
low fat ice cream, yogurt, or sour cream
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease 2 6oz custard cups. Mix pear and berries, divide between cups.
Mix br. sugar, flour, oats, spice in small bowl. Cut in butter/oleo until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit.
Bake 30 minutes (until golden). Serve warm with toppings.
Rotten Tomatoes average: "30 Minutes or Less," C-