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Nothing Blue About Blueberries
While some people wait all year for summer so they can play golf or go to the beach, I look forward to the hot months to go blueberry picking. It's an activity made more special, now that my two little granddaughters share my passion for hand-selecting blueberries to place in baskets.
"Skip the blueberries that look pink," I tell them. "They're sour. You won't like how they taste." Ripe blueberries are deep blue in color.
The 4-year-old pulls berries off the vine so fast, I suspect she was a farm worker in a past life. Some of the best blueberries never get inside our baskets because they are gobbled down, turning petite lips and teeth purple. The 2-year-old manages to stain her cheeks and T-shirt, too.
Once home, there are so many things for us to do with our harvest: blueberry pancakes, blueberries and yogurt, blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler and blueberry compote. I even throw blueberries into tossed salads and sprinkle them on rice pudding.
Although sweet, blueberries contain only 84 calories per cup. Researchers at the Department of Agriculture laboratory at Tufts University ranked blueberries No. 1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 common fruits and vegetables.
Nutrition experts advise refrigerating blueberries at 40° Fahrenheit and consuming them within 10 to 14 days.
Are they kidding? Blueberries have never lasted that long in my house.
Blueberry Breakfast Yogurt(Dairy)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 Tbsps. blueberry preserves (or other berry preserves)
1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts or pecans
Rinse blueberries under cold water and lay on paper towels to dry.
Place yogurt in 1 or 2 cereal bowls. Dot it with the preserves and sprinkle on the nuts and blueberries. Serve immediately.
Serves 1 to 2.
This recipe yields 12 old fashioned-sized muffins, which are much smaller in scale than today's gigantic ones.
3/4 cup blueberries
nonstick vegetable spray
2 cups flour
3 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 cup almond milk
2 Tbsps. corn or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Rinse blueberries under cold water and lay on paper towels to dry. Do not add blueberries to the batter until the very end. Lightly spray baking cups with no-stick spray and place them in the muffin pan's cups. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift the dry ingredients (flour through cardamom) into a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.
Add the wet ingredients (almond milk through egg) and beat until thoroughly combined. Spoon in the blueberries and gently stir until mixed through the batter.
Place a heaping tablespoon of batter into each baking cup. Equally divide any remaining batter, which will fill cups halfway, or less.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffin tops turn golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe freezes well.
Makes 12 muffins.
3/4 cup blueberries
1 cup flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsps. sweet butter, plus 2 to 4 additional tablespoons for frying pancakes, or more, if needed
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp. vanilla
Rinse blueberries under cold water and lay on paper towels to dry. Do not add blueberries to the batter until the very end.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift dry ingredients (flour through sugar) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Stir to blend.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. To the dry ingredients, add the butter, milk, egg and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Spoon in the blueberries and gently stir until mixed through the batter.
Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan. (To expedite cooking time, place 2 more tablespoons of butter in a second frying pan and make pancakes in 2 pans at once.) Heat butter on a medium-low flame until melted. Fill a soup ladle half way and pour batter onto the melted batter. Continue filling the soup ladle with batter until there's none left.
Fry pancakes for several minutes until air bubbles pucker the top surface of the batter.
With a spatula, gently lift a corner of each pancake. When the bottom surfaces are golden brown, then turn over pancakes and continue frying. Add additional butter, if needed to avoid sticking. Turn over pancakes a couple more times until their surfaces are firm and light brown.
Serve immediately with maple syrup, if desired.
Makes 10 to 12 pancakes, 4- to 5-inches in diameter.
Delicious on its own, this syrupy elixir can be served over French toast, sponge cake, angel food cake and even matzah brie.
4 cups blueberries
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 pieces of crystallized ginger or one radish-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Rinse blueberries under cold water, removing any shriveled ones or any with a pink cast. Lay on paper towels to dry.
Place all ingredients in a medium-sized pot and stir. Cover pot and simmer on a low flame for 20 minutes, or until blueberries wilt and a juicy, slightly thickened sauce forms.
Serve immediately or cool to room temperature. Place in a container with a lid and refrigerate. Will last at least a week in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 cups.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected].