Country Kitchen: Blueberry Treats

Country Kitchen: Blueberry Treats
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As the wild blueberries ripen around our home, we know it's time to look for our recipes using this tasty morsel. One of my favorites of summer, blueberries, both wild and cultivated, provide enjoyable treats.
Blueberries are delightful in muffins, cakes, cupcakes, pies, puddings, fruit salads, and with cereal. They also are tasty in a bowl with milk and sugar. We often ate them this way for dessert when I was a child. Mother canned blueberries, too, for winter meals.

Picking Blueberries

We may find blueberries in the wild, the small low bush type. There also are the cultivated blueberries we can plant and grow in our gardens. Often you can pick your own at farms where fruit growers raise them for this purpose and to sell at road side stands.

The Blueberry Hill of my childhood was so named because a farmer raised several acres of cultivated blueberries where we picked them for our use. Other locations of this name may have been designated because a great many wild blueberries grew there which sustained the early colonists.

Many years ago, we helped a friend harvest low bush blueberries from his fields, where he grew low bush ones for commercial sale. For this, we used a metal rake to pick the berries. This looked somewhat like a scoop with teeth at the end with which we pulled the berries from the bushes. Then he put the berries through a winnowing machine which separated the fruit from the leaves and stems.

Blueberries vs. Huckleberries

Most of the time nowadays, I hear these berries called blueberries. However, in my childhood, many people referred to them as huckleberries. In some regions of the country, one name is used more than the other.

Technically, the lighter berries are called blueberries, and huckleberries refer to the darker, almost black ones. Also, it's generally considered that blueberries have the very small seeds which you hardly notice.

Huckleberries, on the other hand, contain around ten hard seeds. Generally huckleberries are found wild, whereas blueberries often are cultivated.

A Native Food

North American native peoples used blueberries as a standard food. They ate these berries fresh and cooked them with their meat. To preserve the berries for winter use, the Native Americans often dried them.

From these people, the settlers to our country learned to use this berry, as well as many others, as summer staples in their diets and dried for winter.

Many Uses

Glancing through cookbooks, you'll find recipes for blueberry pancakes, pies, muffins, tarts, breads, shortcake, sauces, puddings, flummery, waffles, chilled soup, and turnovers. They also can be eaten fresh on cereal and in fruit salads.

BLUEBERRY FLUMMERY is a dish my aunt often made. You can serve it as a dessert or sauce.

Simmer 2 cups fresh blueberries in 1 cup water for 5 minutes. Then put the cooked berries through a sieve. Add enough water to make 2 1/2 cups sauce.

Mix together 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on tartness of berries and how sweet you like your desserts), 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir into the sieved berries. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it's clear and thick. Stir the juice of 1/2 lemon into mixture.

Cool and serve with whipped topping as a dessert. Or use as a sauce over cake, ice cream, or vanilla pudding.

(For variation, you may eliminate the sieving and thicken the whole cooked berries. However, use 3 tablespoons cornstarch for this.)

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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