A Taste of Summer: Blueberries

As much as I love my Jiffy mix blueberry muffins in a pinch, there’s nothing like fresh blueberries, and when we pick them ourselves, they are even sweeter! We made our 4th annual blueberry picking pilgrimage about an hour north of here. It’s a sprawling tract of land that was once upon a time an actual blueberry farm and now it’s just there for the picking (if you know where it is and when to go).

It had rained torrentially the night before, so we slogged through some pretty big puddles (ATVs are the preferred method of transport in this particular area), and even stumbled across a snake in the path (I managed to keep my cool and not scream like the scared-of-snakes-girl that I am) before arriving at the vast expanse of row after row of towering, beautiful blueberry bushes. The first time we went picking, I had never even seen a blueberry bush, so as we made our way down the path and saw a few straggler volunteer plants, we disappointedly assumed that was all there was until we realized that we were idiot city slickers who just hadn’t walked far enough yet to find blueberry nirvana.

We have learned from previous adventures to go early to avoid the relentless southern summer heat; to wear plenty of bug spray (tried the wrist band thingies this time and I thought they worked amazingly well, which is saying a lot b/c I am usually pretty good bug biting material); and to bring a biiiig bucket to fill. I had a huge stainless steel bowl and enjoyed the metallic zing of the first few berries plopped into it. This year, we left with a 6 gallon bucket almost filled to the brim! Then we took them all home, rinsed and cleaned them, froze them in a single row on trays (less clumping, hat tip to Martha Stewart for the trick), and then transferred them to freezer zip lock bags so we can enjoy them all year long. Of course, there’s a huge container of fresh berries in the fridge and I have been enjoying yogurt parfaits, delicious desserts, and even sprinkling them into cocktails (so healthy!).

Behold the beauty of berries in the wild!

blueberry fields forever2  

Behold the beauty of berries that will eventually be in my belly!

blueberry jackpot

Jack surveys the low-hanging fruit; yes we were all sweaty, but the bushes also continued to “rain” on us since they were still wet from a recent storm.

judging the berries

Our picking crew: minions and a tall guy always come in handy (bonus that the tall guy went first and walked headlong into a gigantic banana spider web instead of me!!).

sweaty blueberry pickers sweaty blueberry pickers2

By this point, we had all eaten at least half of what we collected (one for you, two for me…).

Here is a pic of my go-to blueberry cobbler recipe from my dog-earred copy of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It’s also great with blackberries.

Mmmmm….sugared berries…

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Ok, I realize that this looks like chicken tenders on top, but it’s actually dollops of dough. I was so excited to eat this that I forgot to take any pix of the finished product, but trust me, it was amazing, especially hot out of the oven and with vanilla ice cream!

Here’s a link to the ridiculously-easy recipe if you want to try it yourself!

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