Blueberries are just too rewarding to let another season slip by.
This season is a memorably bountiful one for these berries, for starters. Blueberry farmers have been offering competitive prices at their fields and farmers’ markets. The u-pick fields have been yielding some of the easiest buckets in years.
Strawberries make you stoop and remember your last chiropractic appointment. Raspberries have thorns.
Blueberries in these parts, mostly the high-bush variety, grow at a civilized height and do not draw blood.
Don’t worry if you catch a touch of blueberry fever out in the patch. If you bring home more than you can use fresh, blueberries are simple to freeze. Wash and dry the berries, and pick out substandard specimens. Pour them into sheet pans, in a single layer, and put them in the freezer overnight.
Then pour them into zip-top freezer bags, squeeze out the air, and store. They should keep for six months.
Here are three favorite blueberry recipes, each well worth the work involved.
Our new favorite semi-ambitious blueberry recipe, from July’s Bon Appetit, makes impressive picnic fare: individual blueberry pies built to travel. They’re only like Pop Tarts in shape. They taste like fruit first, not sugar, and make beautiful music with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Beginners should remember to use plenty of flour while rolling out the dough, and don’t be shy about cramming maximum berries inside the stretchy dough envelope.
The medium-ambitious suggestion is Alton Brown’s blueberry buckle, which requires a few beating stages but along with the use of cake flour delivers such a tender, fine-crumbed result that it’s worth it.
The blueberry brunch loaf is quite simple, making it a favorite of News staffer Melinda Miller, whose family has blueberry bushes that keep her freezer stocked year-round.
The recipe says that if you want firmer slices, you can wait eight hours for it to cool. Miller is not sure how well that works, as her blueberry loaf has never made it that far.
Bon Appetit’s Blueberry Hand Pies
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon raw sugar
To make crust: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until the texture of very coarse meal. Add v cup ice water; pulse, adding more water if dry, until dough comes together in clumps. Form into a square, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
To make pies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 15-x-12-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 rectangles.
Toss blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Brush edges of rectangles with water; mound some blueberries in center of each. Fold dough over, and press edges to seal. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut slits in tops.
Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through, until juices are bubbling and pastry is golden brown, 35–40 minutes (juices will run onto parchment). Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
DO AHEAD: Crust can be made three days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before rolling out.
Source: Bon Appetit magazine, July edition
Quick Blueberry Sauce
2 pints fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon matchsticked or thinly sliced fresh ginger root (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Combine sugar and water in medium pot. Add ginger root, if using, and bring to simmer.
Add blueberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the berries pop, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice to taste. Will thicken as it cools.
Spoon over pancakes, waffles, ice cream and such.
Alton Brown’s Blueberry Buckle For the cake: Nonstick cooking spray
9 ounces cake flour, approximately 2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
5 and 1/4 ounces sugar, approximately ¾ cup
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
15 ounces fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups
For the topping:
3 and 1/2 ounces sugar, approximately ½ cup
1 and 1/2 ounces cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 9-by9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately one minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds.
Add one third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add one thirdof the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined.
Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
For the topping: In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork or fingers to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumblike texture.
Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Blueberry Brunch Loaf
2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest (or lemon)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice (or lemon)
1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease bottom of 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.
Sift (or mix) dry ingredients together; set aside. Cream butter and brown sugar; blend in egg and orange zest. Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with milk and orange juice. Fold in fruit.
(If using frozen berries, coat berries lightly with flour to prevent bleeding and let thaw before adding to batter. Cold berries will affect baking.) Pour batter into pan; bake for 50 to 60 minutes; longer if necessary.
When done, cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack. For neater bread slices, wait 8 hours before slicing.
Source: Pillsbury Family Cookbook, circa 1973
Blueberry U-Pick Farms
Here’s a partial list of the area’s blueberry patches. Call before you drive, for availability and pricing.
Awald Farms, 10692 Gurney Ave., North Collins, 337-2997
Becker Farms, 3724 Quaker Road, Gasport. Beckerfarms.com, 772-2211
Blueberry Ridge, 12201 Gowanda State Road, Lawtons. 337-2037
Bowman Farms, 11259 Gowanda State Road, North Collins. bowmanfarmsinc.com, 337-2965
Clarence Blueberries, 5685 Shimerville Road, Clarence Center, 474-4493
Fenton’s Produce, 998 Rte. 5, Corfu, fentonsproduce.com, (585) 345-1591.
Greg’s U-Pick, 9270 Lapp Road, Clarence. Gregsupick.com, 741-4239
Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm, 12866 Rte. 78, East Aurora. Thorpesorganicfamilyfarm.com, 655-4486.