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Blueberries are a summer favorite here in Michigan, especially near the lake shore in Western Michigan where the sandy soil and the weather is perfect for growing this popular summer berry.
According to Michigan State University:
"Michigan is the number one state in highbush blueberry production with growers producing over 100 million pounds of blueberries every year."
Blueberries are also grown in North Carolina, Maine and many other states. It’s versatile berry, whether used in recipes or eaten as a snack.
Fresh blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They freeze easily at this point with no preparation. Freeze the berries in freezer bags or containers without washing for up to a year. Frozen blueberries can be used in recipes without thawing.
Blueberries bring to mind pies, muffins, crisp, cobbler and tarts, which are all amazing desserts. You'll find recipes for many of these already on Old Fashioned Living here: http://oldfashionedliving.com/muffins.html and http://oldfashionedliving.com/Summer-Fruit-Recipes.html .
Blueberries can be used in so many other ways, such as:
1. Add blueberries to pancake batter after it's been poured onto the griddle. Place 5-7 fresh blueberries, spacing evenly, on the pancake. Flip as usual once the batter begins bubbling.
2. Freeze blueberries in ice cube trays with the water. When the cubes are frozen completely, add to lemonade, iced tea or punch.
3. Add fresh blueberries to green salads much as you would dried cranberries or cherries.
4. Offer a bowl of strawberries at the breakfast table to spoon into cereal.
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 large jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 large tomato, diced
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Take half of the blueberries and chop them with a sharp knife or use a chopper. Place in a glass bowl. Add in the lemon juice, cilantro, jalapeno, bell pepper, tomatoes and the salt. Mix well. Add the whole blueberries and serve immediately, or cover and chill. This is great served with poultry, especially grilled chicken, or served with pita chips or tortilla chips.
Blueberry Chicken Salad
1 pound chicken breast, cooked, chopped
8 ounces pasta
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup Caesar dressing
The chicken breast can be leftover grilled, roasted or sautéed. Cook the pasta as directed until just tender. Rinse in cold water, and drain. Place in a large bowl. Add the Feta cheese, blueberries and red onion. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients, and then toss with a large spoon.
Notes: This salad is also good with chopped green or red pepper and cucumbers.
Blueberry Spinach Salad
1 pound fresh spinach
1 pint fresh blueberries
4 ounces Feta cheese
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
3 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled
1/2 cup (approx.) sliced mushrooms
1 cup dressing *see below
Wash and pat dry the spinach. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, red onion, and mushrooms. Toss together. Sprinkle with the blueberries and Feta cheese. Slice the eggs and add to the top of the salad. Serve with dressing on the side.
Notes: Many dressings are good with this salad including raspberry vinaigrettes, Italian, French or Poppy Seed. I also like adding half spinach and half mixed salad greens instead of all spinach.