Category Archives: Blueberries

Go Blue Blueberry Jam – local food and easy

Something sweet for you U of M locavores – blueberry jam!

There are not that many blue foods in the world, but fortunately there are Michigan blueberries. All of the Locavorious blueberries this year came from Dave & Kathy Sodt’s berry farm just north of Jackson, Michigan. I discovered this summer that a local artisan jam maker, Ferrall Fruit, was also using Sodt’s berries to create his local jams. Eric Ferrall said a good rule of thumb for jam making is to use 60% fruit (by weight) to 40% sugar….except that our Michigan blueberries and strawberries are so naturally sweet that 30% sugar is enough. OK, so I gave it a try making some blueberry jam out of our frozen Sodt’s berries and MI beet sugar, and wow, it’s a winner. I brought some of this blueberry jam with me to the Homegrown Festival as well as the Westside Farmers market to give everyone a taste of what you can do with top quality local food.

One 10 oz package of Locavorious blueberries

5 oz by weight sugar – Michigan sugar beet sugar of course.

Yes, that’s all you need.

Place the frozen blueberries in a stainless steel saucepan, and turn the heat to medium. Stir occasionally as the berries thaw and melt. When the berries are mostly thawed and juicy, add the sugar and stir a lot to combine it. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to bring mixture to a low boil; partially cover. Here’s a great trick – stick in a thermometer. I’m sure it’s better advice to use a jelly thermometer, but I don’t have one, so I just use a digital meat thermometer. Let the jam simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Careful when you stir, that the jam splatters don’t get you. When the temperature hits 220 F you have jam! Remove from heat and let cool a bit, then transfer to a clean pint jar. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, you can do the cold plate trick to see when the berries jell: after about 20 minutes place a small amount of boiling jelly on a plate, and put it in the freezer for a minute or so. If the mixture gels, it’s jam!

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Blueberry Pie

Maybe the recipe should be named Biggest Bestest Blueberry Pie. I’ve now made 6 or 7 of these pies, and they are typically appreciated. Occasionally people have trampled each other to get the last piece. Once someone said, “That blueberry pie changed my life!” That’s a sure way to get me to bring one to your house for every party.

Pie crust: Filling:
2 cups flour 6 cups frozen blueberries (2 or 3 bags of Locavorious frozen berries)
1 t salt ¾ to 1 cup sugar depending upon your sweet tooth
2/3 cup unsalted butter 1/8 t salt
4 – 5 T ice cold water ½ t vanilla extract
  3 ½ to 7 T cornstarch
  1 ½ T butter, melted

This recipe is for a rather large pie….not one of those little 9″ pie pans…about an 11″ diameter pie. Hence the nearly 2 sticks o buttah and oodles of blueberries.

Put the flour salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add the water 1 T at a time, pulsing between additions, until dough forms, hopefully not too sticky & not too dry. Use your hands to mold the dough into 2 balls, one for the bottom crust and one for the top. If you want a lattice crust top, then one dough portion can be smaller. Refrigerate dough (wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper) until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375.

If you are reading this in the middle of July in Michigan, I hope you are using fresh local blueberries. All other times of the year frozen local berries are your ticket. If the frozen blueberries have been thawed, drain off the extra juice if desired. Combine blueberries, sugar, salt, vanilla and in a large bowl. Stir to combine. If blueberries have been thawed and drained then sprinkle with 3 T cornstarch; if blueberries are still frozen, sprinkle with 7 T cornstarch. Stir to thoroughly combine. Add melted butter and stir again.

Roll out bottom crust and lay into greased pie pan. Spoon blueberry mixture into the crust.

Roll out 2nd dough ball, and make strips. Lay out 4 or 5 dough strips in one direction, and then weave 4 or 5 dough strips perpendicular to the 1st set. (Alternatively, can just put a top crust on the pie and cut slits in it.) Place pie on a baking sheet covered with foil. Sprinkle lattice/top crust of pie with a little more sugar.

Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Allow to cool for about an hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Go Blueberries!

For the past couple weeks, whenever I’m at the market, it’s hard to resist the urge to dance around yelling, “The blueberries are here! The blueberries are here!” They are more than just here, they are perfect right now. I love fresh picked Michigan blueberries. The smell alone differentiates our Michigan farmers’ blueberries from those poor, plastic-clam-shelled, shipped, chilled, blue Florida or Jersey marbles at the grocery stores. So – go – quick – to the farmers market or to a u-pick. Enjoy as many as you can….and then, of course, freeze some! Rinse, pick off stems and leaves, spread out on a cookie sheet and stick it in your freezer. The next morning, bag those berries up really quickly, and back into the freezer they go. Ready when you need them 6 months from now.

Blueberries are very popular in our house – fresh and frozen. One small, cute person who lives with us will eat a whole pint before we leave the market. Said small person also eats them frozen right out of the freezer bag, but she has to plead with Chef Jeff to give some up. He monitors the frozen berry inventory fastidiously to be sure the supply allows year-round blueberry pancakes. Chef Jeff’s blueberry pancake recipe works equally well with fresh and frozen berries.

This time of the year, though, blueberries are not just for breakfast. When the carnivorous mood strikes – try some local ground meat with, yes, blueberries! I found this recipe for Blueberry Burgers on Kate’s irreverent blog 4obsessions. Blueburgers work well with either fresh or frozen berries – so save some of the frozen ones and freak out your football fanatics this fall.

Now I must admit that as an occasional meat eater I didn’t appreciate what all the fuss was about grass-fed, free-range beef….until I tasted some burgers prepared with ground beef from Old Pine Farm. All I can say is – TASTE! That is what the fuss is about. As Kate points out, though, lean grass-fed beef can dry out during cooking, so this blueberry addition boosts the juiciness. My guess is this recipe would work well with ground buffalo, too.

For a dinner prepared earlier this spring we used some ground beef from TMZ Farm; the blueburgers were topped with a sauté of Michigan Mushrooms and spring onion from Goetz Farm. And that’s a side of roasted Locavorious cauliflower grown by the Wilczewskis and a salad of greens from Brines Farm.

Blueberry Matzah Brei

Chef Jeff is one of those guys that can eat matzah brei (aka fried matzah) year round.  Chef Jeff is one of those guys that not only eat matzah brei year round but also really loves it.  I am not one of those guys.  Once a year at Passover is quite enough for me.  However, when the master of blueberry pancakes invented this sweet Passover breakfast treat, matzah brei lovers from all over (the family) heaped praises upon his head….so here it is.  Fortunately, even though spring is upon us, we’ve still got frozen Dexter Blueberry Farm berries galore. This makes one large breakfast serving for a fried matzah lover.

Put ~ 1 qt of water on to boil. Beat 3 eggs, 1/4 teas salt and a pinch of pepper together in a medium size bowl and set aside.  Break 3 pieces of matzah into a large colander.  Chef Jeff says break each piece into 16ths. Slowly pour the boiling water over the matzah in the colander; let drain just a little. Transfer the wet matzah into the egg bowl and let it sit ~ 15 minutes while you go take a shower or shave or something.

Melt ~ 1 T of butter in a medium sized non-stick skillet over medium heat. Put the matzah-egg mixture into the skillet. Sprinkle the top with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries.  Cook without disturbing until the bottom of the matzah brei gets golden brown; about 8 minutes. Now it’s time to flip it over. Easiest way is to use a spatula to break the matzah brei into quarters and flip each piece separately. Now you can break up the matzah brei into smaller pieces or leave it in large pancake-like sections. Cook another couple minutes.

Serve hot with maple syrup, or jam or even honey.

Blueberries

Love these Michigan blueberries. 

Locavorious blueberries came primarily from Sodt’s Berry Farm in Jackson.  If you stroll around the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, you’ve probably seen Dave & Karen’s big, juicy, beautiful berries.  Some of our other berries came from Gibbs Berry Farm in Eaton Rapids, and a few pounds came from the Dexter Blueberry Farm….yes, I put my husband and kids to work.

Ideas for how to eat your frozen Locavorious blueberries:  Eat them right out of the bag!….frozen or thawed slightly. Use frozen directly in recipes.  (Reduce the amount of liquids added to recipes if the recipe calls for fresh fruit.) Add them to pancakes, muffins, cobblers and pies. Use as topping for ice cream. Mix into yogurt.

And now for some recipes…

 

Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from “The Best Blueberry Muffins” in Muffins by Elizabeth Alston.

 

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

~3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teas vanilla

2 teas baking powder

¼ teas salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup milk

2 cups frozen Locavorious blueberries

Optional: 1 T sugar mixed with ¼ teas nutmeg

 

Heat oven to 375o F.  Grease 12-muffin pan, or use foil baking cups.  

Beat butter until creamy.  Beat in the sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.  

Fold in half the flour with a spatula, then half the milk.  Add remaining flour and milk.  Quickly fold in the blueberries, still frozen.  (Batter will start to get stiff quickly because of the large cold berries.)  

Scoop batter into muffin cups.  Sprinkle with nutmeg sugar if desired.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let muffins cool ~ 30 minutes in the pan before removing.

 

Blueberry Pancakes

Chef Jeff’s famous fabulous homemade blueberry pancakes.  And I’m not biased at all.  Really.

 

3 T butter

1 ½ cups low fat buttermilk (or 3 T lemon juice in 1 ¼ cups of milk or vanilla soymilk)  

½ cup flour

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

4 tsp baking powder

3 T sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 eggs (or 2/3 cup eggbeaters)

~ 1 cup frozen blueberries

 

 

Preheat griddle to 275 F.  In a small saucepan, melt butter on high.  Remove from heat, add buttermilk.  Combine and mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs to buttermilk mixture.  Coat griddle with cooking spray.  Combine buttermilk mixture with flour mixture until just wet.   Drop ¼ cup of batter onto griddle for each pancake.  Sprinkle each pancake with desired amount of blueberries.  Cook on 1st side until golden brown (~4 minutes) then flip and cook other side.