Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blueberry Season!

I love summer. I think one of the main reasons I love it so much is all of the fresh produce that is suddenly available...all the fruits and veggies you can find at the Farmer's Market and local Pick-Your-Own farms. And yeah, the grocery store, too. I told Ryan the other day, I think the way to my heart is fresh, organic produce. After buying some cherries and wishing I had more, he bought some on the way home and even found (and purchased the next day) a cherry pitter that pits four cherries at once. I was beyond thrilled. Yes, it's definitely the way to this girl's heart...

I'm finally getting him on board with picking our own fruits from some of the local farms, too. Not that he loves doing it, but he's getting better at enjoying it. His biggest complaint is the heat, of course. And then there's the fact that it's "work." And then I have to mess up the kitchen washing the fruit, flash-freezing it in batches, and getting it into containers to freeze, etc, etc. But he's seen the payoff from the last couple years, especially with how cheap it is, so he's much more on board than he was when he first started this tradition I have...

I already wrote a post about what we do with all of our strawberries from the spring. In the summer..it's time for blueberries! We found a couple not-so-nearby places that have pesticide-free blueberries, the closest being about 25 minutes. Blueberries take longer to pick, being so small and on bushes. And with it being smack in the middle of summer, it gets hot, so we go as early as possible! I've discovered it's good to have two parents around when taking a toddler, mostly due to the time issue, the more open fields, and the fact that it's a bit more tedious than strawberry picking. Those berries are much smaller, so it takes longer to get enough! But oh man is it worth it! Fresh blueberries you've picked yourself are just so much better than store-bought (or even those from the Farmer's Market - they're just that much fresher!). Even after freezing and thawing, they're still yummy to just pop in your mouth. And you can't beat the price when you compare picking your own to buying them at the market or the store (esp if you're getting organic - and keep in mind, blueberries is on the Dirty Dozen list, so we get organic).

I freeze most of the berries to use throughout the year. We go through a LOT of frozen blueberries...for muffins, to toss into oatmeal or things like that, in smoothies (we make lots of smoothies!), etc. Aiden loves to eat them frozen when he gets the chance. I also like to make blueberry sauce. It's delicious over ice cream, pancakes and waffles, or in yogurt. And here is the recipe.... Actually, two. One is a sweeter version, and the other uses honey instead of sugar (and much less). Both are good, but I will be honest in that I prefer the first. Yes, it has more sugar, but I easily use less of it because it is sweeter.

Blueberry Sauce
From Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics
Makes 2 cups.
This recipe is for the whole 2 cups, but I always halve this recipe. And it still makes more than enough - and lasts us quite a while! A little goes a long way.

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or as we do, store-bought, because really...)
2/3 cup sugar (you can use a bit less)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 half-pints fresh blueberries (why doesn't she just say 2 pints??)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I never ever remember the lemon ingredients...)

Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is translucent and thickened, stir in the blueberries and simmer for 4-5 minutes, just until a few berries have burst but most are still whole. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and cool.

And the recipe with less sugar...

Blueberry Syrup
From cleaneatingmag.com
Makes 1/2 cup

3/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 Tbsp raw honey
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp arrowroot powder

In a small saucepan, bring blueberries, honey, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp water to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small dish, combine arrowroot powder with 1 Tbsp water to form a slurry. Whisk or stir arrowroot mixture into blueberry mixture until incorporated. Simmer for 1 minute or until just thickened, carefully mashing blueberries with a fork to extract juice. Remove from heat and cool. 

Obviously the second one is a bit healthier for you, with less sugar. And really, both are good. When I use some to flavor Aiden's yogurt, I can use a very small amount (very) of the sauce made with sugar, but I need to use a larger amount to get a good flavor when using the honey-based version - and he doesn't need it to be very sweet, either..I just need more to get the blueberry flavor coming through well. Regardless, both are great! Try one, try both and see which you prefer. Or if you know you want the "clean" one, just make it and you won't know any better! ;)

Here are some pictures to get you motivated...

Homemade ice cream with homemade blueberry sauce. Hard to resist!

He didn't even try to resist. ;) In fact, he didn't think he would like it because he's used to plain ice cream. Once he got over the fact that it was on his ice cream anyway and he tried it, he was sold!

On top of gluten-free pancakes (finally found some that taste amazing - you would never guess they were gluten-free...from King Arthur Flour!)

Takes barely any sauce to give the yogurt a great flavor!

Of course, as mentioned above, we don't just serve blueberries via the sauce around here. That's just a special treat here and there. And honestly, our favorite way to eat them...is by the handful. Plain. There's not much better than ripe fruit on its own.

One more picture... While blueberry picking, Camden was playing with a roly-poly, and Aiden was quite interested!

And for more blueberry fun... Here are pictures from our blueberry picking trips this year.
Blueberry Picking

What is your favorite way to eat blueberries??


Becky said...

I love Ryan a little more now myself! Sean would NEVER ever ever stop on his way home to pick up anything voluntarily. Apparently it is the biggest inconvenience in the world and the man is ON FOOT and goes right by the store. (okay is it crazy crowded at that time of day but still) And don't even get me started on how he feels about stopping for coffee at the start of a road trip FORGET IT. Drives me NUTS. Needless to say regardless of the fact that he passes at least 4 flower stands on his way home from work he had never stopped unless I specifically ask! My husband is awesome in 101 other ways but this is not one of them. =)

I'm a weirdo I don't like blueberries as a general rule, the seeds drive me nuts.

Daisy and Ryan said...

This is one of the things I love about Ryan...he often does stuff like this. It's not at all uncommon for him to run somewhere on the way home from work or during lunch. He's such a big help! He also realizes it's difficult for me to get out - I have a very small time-frame to get out during the mornings on the one or two mornings I have free each week, so me getting out to run an errand is a lot harder than it is for him. But yeah, he's awesome. :) Of course, things like this don't fit in w/ what my love language is. Would be really nice if it did. I think it's more along the lines of his own, which makes sense... But it's still really nice and makes my life easier many days!

And don't like blueberries? Yeah, you don't hear that often. ;) J/K! We do love them around here. Even when I'm drying berries for freezing, it seems that nearly half of them get eaten before making it to the freezer! Aiden will eat them by the handful (literally). We were adding some to pancakes one day, and he was shoving them in his mouth as fast as he could so I wouldn't be able to stop him. He was successful. A HUGE bowl, and he ate them VERY quickly. Every time my hands were occupied with the batter or flipping a pancake...he would shove a few handfuls in his mouth!