Blueberry bliss: Get ’em while they’re ripe

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Blueberry season is here, and it’s a short one, with some growers already finished with their crops.

What’s not to like about a blueberry? They’re a lovely color, no big seeds, and they play nicely with savory food as well as sweet.

For years, blueberries have been hailed as a superfood that can protect a person from heart disease and cancer. They can maintain bone strength, mental health and blood pressure. Wild blueberries have the highest antioxidants compared to cultivated blueberries.

Maybe the world needs a prescription for blueberries.

Anthocyanin gives blueberries their color and health benefits. Eat just one cup, and you’ve gotten 24 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C.

One thing to be cautious about — blueberries have a high vitamin K content, which can interfere with blood clotting. If you take blood thinners, ask your doctor how many blueberries you can eat.

Blueberries are called nutrient dense because of the vitamins and minerals they contain, so they come in near the top of the good foods lists.

The best way to eat them is fresh, tossed in your cereal or oatmeal, with plain yogurt, in a smoothie, a salad and to top things like pound cake or vanilla ice cream. Freezing them can cause them to loose some of the health benefits, but it is unclear how much.

Rowan County is lucky to have local blueberry sources. Talia Farms, at 4445 Goodman Lake Road, offers pick-your-own blueberries on Wednesdays and Fridays, noon-6 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon.

Blueberries are also available at the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers’ Market, which sets up from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays at 520 S. Main St. Recently, Twin Oak Farms and Lakeside have had blueberries, sparing you the picking. Randy Elium will pick blueberries to order. You can leave a message at 704-636-2671 to place an order.

The nation’s largest producer of blueberries is Washington state, followed by Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, New Jersey, California and North Carolina. The United States produces the most blueberries in the world.

We picked some blueberries at a friend’s house and needed a quick dessert, so we made a very simple trifle, skipping the custard or pudding and just using whipped topping. It would be even better with layers of whipped cream, but it was a hot day and this was easy.

Lazy Blueberry Trifle

1 1/2-2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4-1/2 cup sugar (to taste)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup orange juice

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. water

Juice of half a lemon

1 round poundcake, or two small loaf-size cakes

2 8-ounce containers frozen whipped topping

1/2 cup (approximately) blueberry or white wine, such as riesling

Put the blueberries, sugar, cinnamon and orange juice in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Mix water and cornstarch and add to the blueberries, stirring just until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Cut poundcake into slices that will fit in the bottom of a large glass bowl or trifle dish, sprinkle with wine (or more orange juice) to moisten. Top with blueberry mixture, then a layer of whipped topping. Repeat layers until the bowl is full and garnish the top with some blueberries.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Blue Lips Chicken Wings

2 pounds chicken wings (about 24 pieces)

1 cup blueberry preserves

3 Tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp. lime zest

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 cup fresh blueberries

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a blender, combine preserves, lime juice, zest, olive oil and red pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a 1 gallon resealable bag. Add chicken wings, seal and shake to coat evenly.

Refrigerate and marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. Turn occasionally to coat.

Line a large sheet pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place wings in single layer on foil. Sprinkle with whole blueberries.

Bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Let stand 5 minutes, then serve.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

3 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups zucchini, grated

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 eggs at room temperature

3/4 cup canola oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

For topping

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 4-by-8 inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Cut two pieces of parchment paper to put in the bottom of each pan, they spray again. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, oil and zucchini, then the cup of white sugar and the cup of brown sugar. Blend.

Add the flour mixture in thirds to the creamed mixture, beating after each addition.

In another bowl, toss blueberries with about a tablespoon of flour to coat so they don’t sink to the bottom. Carefully stir in blueberries.

Divide batter between the two loaf pans. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over batter.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until done when a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pan on rack for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely.


Blueberry Sorbet

4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

6 ounces apple juice frozen concentrate

In the container of a food processor or blender, combine blueberries and apple juice concentrate.

Process until it is liquefied, then pour into an 11-by-7-inch baking pan. Cover and freeze until firm around the edges, about two hours.

With a heavy spoon, break the frozen part into pieces. Place in the food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth, but not melted.

Put into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and freeze until firm.

Serve within a few days.

Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

3 Tbsp. white vinegar

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 Tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup

1/3 plain Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

In a saucepan, heat the blueberries and honey or maple syrup over medium heat, covered, until blueberry juices are bubbly.

Mash blueberries with a fork to help get juices out and cook an additional 5 minutes, but don’t let the mixture boil over.

Remove from heat and strain using a fine mesh strainer. Discard pulp and place syrup in the refrigerator to cool.

Once cool, combine the blueberry syrup with all the other ingredients and whisk until smooth and creamy. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.