Blueberries are ripe and ready
Leading up to the Fourth of July rumors were flying that blueberries were ripe and ready for picking.
Freshly picked Oregon blueberries are one of the joys of summer, and that brought back a memory of a most patriotic Fourth spent picking blueberries with my family.
We drove to a U-pick farm in the Canby area; other families had come with the same intent of enjoying the fresh air, a little family time and the tasty blues.
As we picked from the bushes in our assigned rows, we could hear laughter and conversations in French, Russian and other languages.
I was touched by this unexpected illustration that America is truly a melting pot of people from all over the world.
Blueberries have tasted extra special ever since.
I received word right before July 4 from the Oregon Blueberry Commission that, even after 20 years of unprecedented growth, the 2018 Oregon crop is looking good and will likely set another record.
Oregon growers are expecting to harvest more than 130 million pounds of blueberries this year. This is great news for consumers around the world.
Blueberries are considered to be one of the healthy superfoods. They are rich in antioxidants, protect the body from harmful free radicals which can cause cancer and other diseases. They also contain natural compounds which can help protect you from age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's and macular degeneration.
With only 40 fat-free calories per half cup, blueberries are also a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and that half cup is an easy way to meet the USDA's recommended goal of eating five to nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
Picking blueberries is easy, and makes a fun, family activity. The whole family enjoys eating them, why not let them help harvest?
Clackamas County has many U-pick farms nearby; you can view the list online at oregonblueberry.com.
When buying fresh blueberries, at the market or farm stand, select firm, plump and unblemished berries in dry, unstained containers. The blueberries should be free of surface moisture, which accelerates decay.
The commission says color is the best indicator of blueberry maturity and fully developed flavor. Blueberries should be deep purple-blue to blue black, with a natural powdery bloom or fine snowy white dust on the surface.
Shelf-life for blueberries is longer than other berries — generally 10 days to two weeks from harvest.
To store blueberries arrange unwashed berries in a shallow container. Cover them, and wash just prior to using them.
You can freeze berries by placing them on a bake sheet and putting them in freezer, then bagging them in sealable bags or containers.
They should be thawed under refrigerated conditions to ensure optional defrost. Never refreeze thawed fruit. Properly thawed, cultivated blueberries will maintain their original freshness.
One of my favorite blueberry recipes is one of my very first cooking assignment from junior high school, Blueberry Buckle. It is easy to make and delicious.
I am also sharing an intriguing recipe I found on the commission's website, Blueberry Turkey Burgers with Blueberry Ketchup.
The ketchup should be delightful accompaniment to salmon and other foods. Experiment with it, and check out oregonblueberry.com for more
Check the website now for a blueberry farm near you. Treat your family to an all-American adventure.
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Makes one 9-inch square cake, yields about 12 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup milk
3 cups fresh whole blueberries
For the topping:
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Spray a 9-inch-by-9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 30 seconds.
Add one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated, and then add one-third of the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
For the topping: In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the batter.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Blueberry Turkey Burgers with Blueberry Ketchup
1½ cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
½ cup minced onion
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pickled ginger (gari) or minced fresh ginger
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine blueberries, onion, vinegar, sugar, ginger and salt. Bring to simmer; cook about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove to blender or food processor; whirl until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
1 pound ground turkey
¾ cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass (optional)
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 poppy seed hamburger buns
Lettuce and sliced red onion, optional
In a large bowl combine turkey, blueberries, ginger, lemongrass and black pepper; mix well. Form mixture into 4 patties. Brush soy sauce on both sides of burgers. In an oiled skillet over medium-high heat, grill patties until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
Serve on buns with lettuce, sliced red onion and blueberry ketchup.
Recipe courtesy of Oregon Blueberry Commission