Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blueberries: Picking, Cooking, Eating

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 1:47 PM

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At least half-a-dozen farms in the Memphis area offer pick-your-own blueberries. The season is a little late this year because of our cool spring, but farmers expect berries to be plentiful at least through the end of July. Some years, blueberries last until mid-August.

Be sure to call ahead to check availability. (A list of farms, addresses, and phone numbers follows.) On the day I checked, only three out of the six had berries. Availability changes almost daily due to weather and how many people show up to pick. I think the birds and squirrels have something to do with it to, but that’s just a guess.

Lots of Internet resources exist to help with blueberry canning and cooking. I like pickyourown.org. It lists pick-your-own farms by county and state, and it has lots of good jam and jelly-making tips and recipes.

Harris Farms
7521 Sledge Road
Millington, TN 38053
(901) 872-0696

Jones Orchard
6824 Big Creek Church
Millington, TN 38053
(901) 872-2923

Nesbit Blueberry Plantation
690 Bankston Road
Nesbit, MS 38651
(662) 429-3778

Pontotoc Blueberry Ridge
240 Carter Lane
Pontotoc, MS 38863
(662) 489-8481

Windermere Farms
3060 Woodhills Drive
Memphis, TN 38128
(901) 386-2035

Hudspeth Blueberry Farm
400 Pioneer Way
Senatobia, MS 38668
(662) 562-4192

Now comes the fun part: What to do with all the berries you pick. Try Googling blueberry pound cake or blueberry pancakes, and the options are a little overwhelming. After reading way too many recipes and reader comments, I settled on these two. Both were delicious. Of course, I tweaked them a little, because that’s what I do.

Blueberry Pancakes
(From about.com/southern food)

* 2 eggs, separated
* 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* ¾ teaspoon salt
* 1 cup milk
* 3 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 cup fresh or frozen thawed blueberries, rinsed

Preparation:

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Beat egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl; add milk and melted butter. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients; mix until batter is smooth and stir in blueberries. Fold in beaten egg whites. Fry in buttered pan or griddle.

I pretty much followed this recipe, but I added more blueberries and a little less butter. Although I always read about separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, I’d never taken the time to do it before. This time I did, and even my husband commented on how fluffy the pancakes were. Be sure to give it a try.

Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake
(From Cooking Light magazine)

Ingredients

Cake:
* Cooking spray
* 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
* 3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon alt
* 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
* ¼ cup butter, softened
* 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
* 4 large eggs
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 (16-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
* 2 cups fresh blueberries

Glaze:
* 1 cup powdered sugar
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, butter, and rind in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (about 4 minutes total). Beat in vanilla and sour cream. Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake.

I basically liked this recipe, but I doubled the amount of lemon zest for the cake. Next time, I’ll add even more. Tip for chopping up zest: Use a paring knife to cut off the lemon rind, then toss it all into your food processor. Let it run for four or five minutes, and the zest is perfect for baking.

We loved this cake, although my daughter said it tasted like a big blueberry muffin. True, but is there anything wrong with that?

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