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Bonkers for Blueberries!

by on August 11, 2016
 

Blueberry Fever! If there was such a disease, I would certainly have it. I love picking them, cooking them, freezing them, eating them, talking about them. Not only are they delicious, but they are so nutritious. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you can pick them until your fingers turn blue. I’ve even gone to work with blue fingers.They are so plentiful and free!

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been picking blueberries. I remember my mom would pack big roaster pans and pots and a picnic lunch made of venison sandwiches and head to our favorite picking spot with my entire family and we would pick from dawn to dusk. The most blueberries I ever picked in one season was 20 quarts, but I already broke that this year picking 22 quarts and I’m not done yet.

While many people prefer to just buy them at the local farmer’s market or produce stand, I still pick them as often as I can. There is just something about that fresh picked taste that can’t be beat.

When tourists come to town, they often want to go blueberry picking. While blueberries are plentiful, you need to know where to look to find them. Here are some tips to ensure that your first blueberry picking experience won’t be your last.

  1. The best way to find a good blueberry patch is to go with a pro, but if you don’t have any friends or family that will share their blueberry patch with you then it could be a little more challenging. Look for forest land that has been clear-cut or where a fire recently burned. It usually takes 2 years for the blueberries to start to flourish in these areas, but they will flourish.
  2. Dress appropriately. You will be walking through long grass, picker bushes, twigs and sticks, ant holes, etc. Make sure you have closed-toe shoes and your legs are protected.
  3. Bugs can be bad so have some bug spray with you.
  4. Check yourself for wood ticks and your pets too.
  5. Have plenty of containers with you. You don’t want to find a mother lode and not have enough containers to get your riches home.
  6. Berry hunting can be time consuming and laborious so make sure you have some food and water with you.
  7. Tell people where you plan on going and when you will be back. Cell service can be sketchy in some of these areas and passer-bys are few and far between.
  8. You are in the woods so be cognizant of your surroundings. We do have bear, coyote, wolves, and, despite what the DNR might say, cougars, roaming around.

So you were successful with your first blueberry picking adventure. Maybe a little too successful and you’re wondering what you’re going to do with all these blueberries. Well the recipes are endless. Blueberry pancakes, desserts, pies, bars, salsas. Throw them in your salad. Make a fruit pizza. I included the recipe for one of my favorite blueberry desserts at the end of this article. I hope you enjoy it!

No time to cook right now, don’t fret. Blueberries freeze well. Just clean off the leaves and dirt, lay them flat on a cookie sheet and put them in your freezer. Once they have frozen, take them off the cookie sheet and put them in some freezer tight bags. Using this method, your berries will remain little marbles and not freeze together into one big glob.

If picking isn’t for you, but you love to cook, then check out Pelligrini Farms in Vulcan, Michigan. They’ll send you a whole case of freshly picked Michigan blueberries. How can you beat that? But order early in the season, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.

All this blueberry talk has got me feeling hungry. Think I’ll go whip me up some blueberry pancakes. If you want to know my secret for making them extra fluffy, watch the video in this article. If you think you won’t love them, well DOUBT IT!!! Cuz you will!

Blueberry Swirl

You need an 8″ x 8″ Pan – Double recipe for 9″ x 13″

 Crust:

1 ¼ cup graham crackers crushed

4 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

Mix all ingredients together and bake 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

3 eggs separated. You’ll use both parts so don’t throw anything away

8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

10 oz. bag of frozen raspberries (I used 12 oz. and it was fine)

  1. Separate eggs and beat egg yolks until pale yellow. Add room temp cream cheese, sugar and salt.
  1. Beat until light and smooth.
  1. Beat egg whites with ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar until stiff.
  1. Whip cream with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar.
  1. Fold egg whites into whipped cream then fold into cream cheese mixture.

When you fold always go under and over gently.  If you stir it, all the volume will deflate and your mixture will lose that fluffiness — that would suck.

  1. Start by adding a layer of blueberries to your crust, then put half of your mixture. Then layer again with some berries. Then the rest of your mixture. Top with remaining berries. Swirl with a butter knife or fork.
  1. Cover with handi-wrap, I double it. Then with tin foil. Freeze overnight and take out 2 hours before you serve.  You can make this a week in advance.  Excellent for a party.

This is so good, you can make it with strawberries, raspberries or any fruit you like.

I made it with strawberries and blueberries combined and it was awesome.

If you think everyone won’t be asking you for the recipe for this one, well “Doubt It”!!!

 

 

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