The only time I really enjoy feeling blue is every July at Trinity when the local blueberries start coming in.
Blueberries ripen as early as June in eastern North Carolina and typically begin to ripen in late June or early July in the Trinity. In a good year, the Trinity harvest can last until Labor Day.
I admit to eating most of the blueberries off my hand as a snack. But there is no end to the things you can do with them. Pancakes, cakes, cobbler, ice cream – the list is endless.
Try mixing a little of it or crushing it into lemon juice or even sparkling water. They can also be added to a variety of cocktails, including a gin crush, daiquiri, or mojito.
Blueberries are also great in a variety of salads. They go especially well with feta or goat cheese and with most nuts.
In addition to jam, my grandmother always made raspberry sauce, which she served with ice cream as a simple sundae. It’s as simple as boiling a few blueberries with sugar to taste until it thickens until the sauce thickens.
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The other week, former Mary’s Gourmet Diner founder, Mary Haglund, was boasting on Facebook that she had come up with the best blueberry muffin recipe yet.
She noted that she is picky about cakes, as they are often dry. She said, this is not so.
They also have a hint of orange. Haglund uses chopped dried oranges, but I’ve found that the orange zest works well too. I also found chopped dried mango to be bland.
It’s important to measure the flour correctly, Haglund said, because too much flour can make cakes heavy. “The secret here is to put the flour in the measuring cup with a tablespoon and not fill it,” she said.
She also cautioned against over-mixing the mixture. “This is the number one reason why donuts are chewy and unpopular,” she said.
For a good rise, she added, you need to bake the cakes within minutes of making the batter because the baking powder, which makes the cakes rise, is activated once it gets wet.
Watch the cakes carefully. Once you insert a toothpick into the center and come out clean, the cakes are done. Any further cooking will only dry them out.
I tried a blueberry sauce this year after seeing a recipe taken from Cynthia Graubart’s book Love Grapes.
This one had no heat, and it had basil and white balsamic vinegar in it. I ended up making my own recipe, using jalapeños, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro.
Salsa is good with chips. But it can also be served with grilled tenderloin or pork chops, or with fish such as halibut. Try it in fish tacos.
I like good juices, berries are the best. I’ve found with smoothies that if you have quality fruit, it’s best to keep the ingredient list short and sweet to allow the blueberries to shine through. I’ll allow some fresh spinach to be added to the mix, but overall I like the blueberry smoothie with blueberries, yogurt, honey and a bit of banana for a creamy texture.
This summer I also have a recipe for the galette, which is a type of free-form pie that’s much easier than a traditional two-crust pie.
Galette uses uncooked berry mixture. Place this on a rolled circle of pie crust and fold the edges up over some but not all of the berry mixture. If you use a store-bought pie crust, this dessert can be ready for the oven in less than 15 minutes. You can also use puff pastry in place of the pie crust.
Galette only needs 20-25 minutes to bake. It can be served warm or at room temperature. She doesn’t really need it, but she is very good with a scoop of ice cream melting on it.
Photos: blueberry recipes