Blueberries—The Easy Summer BerryBlueberries are touted for their anti-oxidant properties, but they’re fabulous for reasons other than the good things they do for your body. In my humble opinion, they’re actually the easiest of all summer berries. Here’s why:
1. They’re easy to grow in most climate zones if you pick the right hybrid. If they can grow in heavy clay and survive days on end in the 90 degree range in my backyard, they can pretty much grow anywhere. Cranberries require a bog. Strawberries prefer a loamy soil.
2. They don’t require a lot of fuss other than netting to protect your bounty from being eaten by birds and watering if you haven’t had rain.
3. They’re easy to pick. Blueberry bushes don’t have thorns like blackberries and raspberries, which scratch.
4. They’re easy to eat. There are no tiny seeds to get between tooth and gum, like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Maybe those seeds don’t bother you, but they bothered me so much as a child that I refused to eat berries. Of course, the fact that I didn’t eat them made me the best berry picker in my family.
5. They’re easy to cook with. If your yield for the day is low, toss them in your cereal. If your yield is a cup or so, make muffins or pancakes, or a nice syrup (a little sugar added to the berries in a sauce pan over low heat) for ice cream or cheesecake. If your yield is high (four to six cups), bake a blueberry crumble. See below for my husband’s favorite dessert made with our blueberry bounty.
Preheat oven to 400° and spray a 9x11” Pyrex pan with non-stick spray.
Cornstarch Mixture (to prevent soupiness):
In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to ¼ cup of water and 2/3 cup of granulated sugar. Cook over low heat until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved and the mixture thickens.
Rinse and remove any stems from blueberries. Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:
4-6 cups fresh, rinsed blueberries (2-3 pints)
¼ cup sifted all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Once berries and other ingredients are mixed, pour into pyrex pan. Wait 15 minutes before baking, so that the cornstarch mixture can marry with the rest of the berry mixture and thicken.
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup natural turbinado sugar
2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
2 ¼ sticks of salted butter (Do not use margarine!)
Mix sugar and flour together, then cut in butter until butter is thoroughly combined and crumbles form. I use my hands, but you can use a pastry cutter. Sprinkle crumble over berry mixture as evenly as possible.
Place Pyrex dish on top of cookies sheet to catch drips. Bake in a 400° oven for 35 minutes or until crumbles brown and berry mixture bubbles. Check at 20 minutes to determine if the crumbles need to be covered with foil to prevent over-browning. If they look like they’re a nice golden color, cover with foil for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
What's your favorite summer fruit? Why is it your favorite?