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Blueberries and more…

Posted in entertaining, Facts, history of foods, and recipes

Summer fruits are my favorite and my very favorite fruit is the blueberry. Not only becasue of its beautiful color and flavor but of its’ many health benefits…Technorati Tags : , , Ads by AdGenta.com

 

It was the year 1620, and the wild land of North America was a most unfamiliar, new territory to England’s settlers. Those fortunate enough to survive that harsh winter found themselves establishing homes and farms with the help of their Native American neighbors, the Wampanoags. They showed the settlers how to plant corn and harvest new crops native to North American soil. And the most surprising of these crucial crops?

 

The blueberry!

 

Blueberries—of the genus Vaccinium—are one of the few fruits that are native to North America, and they have been gathered from forests and bogs for centuries to be consumed both fresh and preserved. In fact, Northeastern Native American tribes termed blueberries “star berries,” utilizing the fruit to make medicines, dyes, flavorings for meats and as ingredients in soups and stews.

 

Now, in modern times, blueberries are just as celebrated. The cultivation of “highbush” blueberries has been improved over the span of decades, thanks to natural selection and plant breeding programs. The result is an optimal blueberry, one with a delicious flavor, desirable texture, and rich blue color. Blueberry plants flower in spring and are pollinated by bees. Fruit development occurs about two or three months after bloom, and the sugar content of the fruit increases during maturation by about 15 percent when ripe.

 

The highbush blueberry is grown commercially in more than 38 states and Canadian provinces. The industry also extends to South America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. More than 42,000 metric tons of blueberries are harvested each year!

 

Thanks to production in the Southern Hemisphere, blueberries can be on our Northern shelves year-round. Not only are they found fresh, but blueberries can be dried, frozen, packed in water or syrup, or prepared into shelf-stable pie fillings and sauces.

 

Yes, the blueberry is truly something else. In fact, July is known as National Blueberry Month! Special festivals in honor of this tiny wonder are held in the following states and provinces: Alaska, Alabama, Alberta, British Columbia, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Oregon, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Visit www. http://www.blueberry.org/festivals.htm to find the festival nearest you!

 

Even if there are no blueberry fiestas in your area, a great recipe can bring the party to your door. Check out these scrumptious dishes featuring our tarty friend. Any one of them is sure to send taste buds soaring.

 

 

 

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A Granita  di Mirtilli (blueberry granita) is really refreshing this time of year

 

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh blueberries

1 teaspoon freshly grated organic lemon peel

1 teaspoon of freshly grated organic orange peel

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup sugar

 

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine blueberries, lemon peel, orange peel and 1 cup water. Over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until blueberries are very soft. Set a fine strainer over bowl; strain mixture, pressing with the back of a large spoon. Stir lemon juice into purée; chill.

 

In a saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water; over high heat, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; chill.

 

Stir sugar syrup into blueberry purée. Pour mixture into a shallow pan; freeze blueberry mixture until ice crystals form around edges of pan, 45 to 60 minutes. With a fork, scrape the ice crystals from edges and stir into mixture. Freeze mixture until fully frozen, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring several times. 

 

To serve: Place in tall glasses. Garnish with crisp cookies, fresh blueberries, thin fresh orange slices.  

 

Yield: 1 quart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A yummy variation on a classic blueberry dish is  Blueberry Shortcakes

 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Pinch ground cinnamon

2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, slightly thawed if frozen*

6 Blueberry Biscuits

½ cup heavy cream

 

For Blueberry Sauce: In a medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until boiling; boil and stir about 1 minute longer.

Stir in blueberries; cook until blueberries are glazed, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate covered, until cold about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make Blueberry Biscuits.

To serve shortcakes: In a small deep bowl beat heavy cream, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until stiff peaks form; set aside. Cut 6 blueberry biscuits horizontally in half. On 6 serving plates place the bottom halves of biscuits; top each with a rounded 1/3 cup blueberry sauce and 2-1/2 tablespoons whipped cream. Cover with muffin tops.

*If using frozen blueberries, reduce water to 1/3 cup

 

 

Visit www.blueberry.org for more savory blueberry-themed recipes. The blueberry may be a very tiny fruit—but it holds a world of possibilities.

 

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