It takes a lot longer to pick a quart of blueberries than a quart of strawberries! Nevertheless, Alex and I came home with 8 quarts of beautiful blueberries this weekend that we picked for some good, clean, American fun to celebrate Independence Day.
I know you may be wondering what happened to the blueberry bushes in my backyard. They’re still alive, but the younger one produced only a small handful of berries that were eaten before you could say “shoo, birds!” The older one has many berries, but they haven’t turned blue yet. And with the blueberry projects I had in mind, I decided I’d need to supplement my blueberry stash.
Blueberry pie is my dad’s favorite, and I’ve been promising him one for Father’s Day for about the past 5 years, but somehow it never worked out: the blueberries weren’t quite ready or we were on vacation, etc. Belated though it may have been, I finally followed through on my promise after making a pie for a small 4th of July celebration at my parents’ house. On the way home from the blueberry farm, I had a thought about the possibilities of blueberry vinegar, so while I was in the kitchen, I also experimented with making my own. And of course we couldn’t have fresh blueberries and not make blueberry pancakes the next morning!
Read on to find out more about each project.
Blueberry Pie (adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe here)
Yum Factor: Alex – 9.2, Jessalyn – 9, Dad – 9.5
– 1 recipe all-butter pie crust (I use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe plus I add about 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the recipe)
– 1.5 quarts beautiful whole blueberries plus a few handfuls more that you squash up with your hands
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– juice from half a lemon
– 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– splash of vanilla vodka (optional)
1. Mix together in a large bowl and let sit for a few minutes while you roll out your crust. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Pile the blueberry mixture into the bottom of your pie dish.
3. Top with the other half of your pie crust, either whole with slits cut into the top, or lattice-style, as I did, trimming any excess as necessary. Use a rich egg wash (egg beaten with a little milk) to seal up all the crust edges and also to create a nice brown sheen to the top of the crust.
4. Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes then turn the oven down to 350F and continue baking for about 50 minutes, or until the top is richly browned and the blueberries have thickened. Let cool completely, but then eat as soon as possible, with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, or even praline ice cream or lemon sherbet.
In case you can’t tell by the pictures, it was wonderful: Not too tart, not too sweet, but super juicy and blueberry-y. We may or may not have polished the rest off for breakfast the next day…
I’m not totally sure what piqued my curiosity in making blueberry vinegar, other than I knew raspberry vinegar is really simple to make and popular for making, well, raspberry vinaigrettes. Surely a similar technique could yield a beautifully colored blueberry vinegar?
– 2 cups vinegar (I used regular white vinegar, but in the future, I might use half white vinegar and half white-wine vinegar)
– 1-2 tablespoon sugar, depending on how sweet your berries are
– 1 cup blueberries
*If you want, you could add some other herbal flavors: maybe a bay leaf? some lemon verbena? These might add an extra layer of flavor to the vinegar, but I haven’t tried it yet.
1. Heat the vinegar and sugar on the stovetop until just boiling and sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, place blueberries in bottom of clean jar (or split between two jars as I did).
2. Pour the warmed vinegar over the blueberries and seal the jar. Leave on the counter for 3 days, shaking gently a couple times a day. After three days, strain the mixture into a clean jar or bottle and discard the fruit. Should keep indefinitely. Use with your favorite dressings or marinades.
Check out the cool color transformation:
I am looking forward to using this in creative ways, but for now am admiring its beautiful color.
– 1 cup flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup milk
– 1 egg
– 1/2 cup blueberries
1. Combine in bowl.
2. Heat nontstick griddle or skillet to medium and melt a little butter in it. Pour batter by 1/4 cup-fulls onto skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the top. Flip and cook until lightly browned. Keep warm in a 200F oven while you cook the rest.
Being out of maple syrup, we topped ours with a healthy dose of diced peaches (brilliant combination – peaches and blueberries, by the way), vanilla yogurt, and a drizzle of honey. I love how the fresh blueberries burst in the hot batter, leaving artistic trails of purple/pink/blue goodness in my pancakes.
So there you have it: three non-jam things to do with your blueberries. Which will you try? Do you have a favorite blueberry dish? Maybe a cobbler or a scone? Ice cream? Any ideas for using blueberries in a savory way? Or maybe you prefer to eat your blueberries raw? Do tell.
P.S. If you’ve got a lot of blueberries (or want to have a lot at your disposal throughout the year), give them a wash and a dry and spread them out on a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the freezer for an hour. Once they’re individually frozen, pack them into freezer bags or containers and use as needed. Easy peezy.