Prudence Hilburn More Content Now
Whether you enjoy them fresh from the picking or baked in muffins, cobblers, cakes or pies, I think we all agree the “summer sapphires” of the berry family are a special taste treat.
Blueberries are a good source of vitamins A and C, and they are not as perishable as most other berries. While blackberries keep their quality only about a day or two after they are purchased or picked, blueberries will keep about two weeks, if they are handled properly. Do not wash blueberries until you are ready to use them. Also, the Blueberry Association advises you should not wash the berries before freezing them, as this toughens the skins.
Blueberries are versatile, and their flavor marries well with many different types of fruits such as lemon, orange, pineapple, apples, pears and bananas. I especially like to add a little lemon juice in my fresh blueberry muffins. It just seems to enhance the blueberry flavor.
If you don’t have time for baking but you have some fresh blueberries on hand, you might like to use an idea I learned while working at a cooking school in New York City. I really wasn’t expecting the simple blueberry dessert to taste so good. All you need to do is spoon the blueberries into a bowl and cover them with pure maple syrup. That’s right, cover them. Put them in the refrigerator overnight or for several hours. When you are ready to serve them, spoon them into individual serving bowls, topping each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Unbelievably good.
My husband’s all-time favorite was fresh blueberry pie, and I haven’t made one in years. When a friend gave me some blueberries recently, I decided to try my hand at making this classic dessert. The following recipe is from my cookbook, “A Treasury of Southern Baking,” published by HarperCollins in 1993.
The pecan pastry adds a wonderful flavor accent, but if you don’t like to make pie crust, don’t let that stop you from enjoying this easy-to-make blueberry specialty. Just pick up a couple of refrigerated pie crusts from your supermarket.
FRESH BLUEBERRY PIE
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/ 2 cup ground pecans
• 1/ 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/ 2 teaspoon salt
• 1 /2 cup chilled shortening
• 1 /2 cup chilled butter or margarine
• 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water
• 4 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/ 4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Combine flour, pecans, baking powder and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add shortening and butter. Process by pulsing until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with just a few lumps the size of peas. Gradually add ice water and mix until dough forms a ball. Remove from bowl and divide the dough in half, making two disks each about an inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to sit until soft enough to roll without tearing. Roll each disk to a circle an inch or two larger than a 9-inch pie plate. Fit one circle of dough in pie plate.
Combine berries, sugar and flour in medium bowl. Toss lightly to coat berries. Pour into pie crust. Dot with butter. Top with the second circle of dough. Trim and flute the edges of the crust. Cut 5 or 6 small slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then lower temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for about 30 minutes. If the edges of crust seem to be browning too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
— Prudence Hilburn of Piedmont has won more than 30 national cooking awards and written several cookbooks, including, “Simply Southern and More.” Write her at email@example.com or visit www.prudencehilburn.com.