August 10, 2006
Enjoying the bluest month
How to pick, keep and devour the delicious local blueberry crop
By Susan Reilly firstname.lastname@example.org
Slow aging, help prevent cancer and improve your vision — what is this miracle drug?
In fact, Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center have found that blueberries rank first in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables. (Antioxidants help neutralize harmful by-products of metabolism called “free radicals” that can lead to cancer and other age-related diseases)
Even the thing that makes blueberries blue — anthocyanin — is thought to be responsible for imparting major anti-oxidants.
In southern New Hampshire, blueberry season is short and sweet and just beginning. As with most produce, there is a big difference between store-bought and fresh off the farm.
Locally, we have wild blueberries — which are tiny — and cultivated blueberries, the more common, larger berry. Both are delicious and pack the same nutritional punch, so it is just a matter of preference.
Blueberries grow in grape-like clusters on a bush. The easiest way to pick blueberries is to hold your bucket under the cluster and with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers.
The ripe berries will drop into your bucket, while the unripe ones (the berries with a reddish tint) will remain attached to the bush.
While picking, it is best not to put blueberries in a closed container, as moisture will form. Chill berries soon after picking to increase shelf life. If refrigerated, fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10 to 14 days.
Also, don’t wash berries until just before eating to prevent them from becoming mushy.
To freeze blueberries, place in freezer containers without washing — this keeps the skins from toughening. Place berries one layer deep and when frozen, pour the frozen berries into freezer containers.
Because the unwashed blueberries freeze individually, they can be easily poured from containers in desired amounts. Just before using, wash the blueberries in cold water; they will defrost quickly.
Adapted from Gourmet
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
3/4 lb blueberries (2 1/2 cups), thawed if frozen
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Finely grind ginger with sugar in a food processor. Add blueberries and purée until smooth. Force purée through a fine sieve into an 8- to 9-inch baking pan, pressing hard on solids (discard solids). Stir in water and lime juice.
Freeze, stirring and crushing lumps with a fork every hour, until evenly frozen, about 4 hours total. Scrape with a fork to lighten texture, crushing any lumps.
Serve immediately or freeze, covered, up to 3 days (rescrape to lighten texture again if necessary). Makes about 4 cups or 4 servings.
Blueberry and goat cheese salad
4 cups mixed salad greens
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup pecans or walnuts (To crisp nuts and bring out their full flavor, toast them in a 300º F oven for about 5 minutes)
¼ cup balsamic dressing
Combine ingredients, toss with dressing to taste.
No-bake blueberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust
From Bon Apetit, in 2003
Perfect for when it is too hot outside and the thought of heating up the oven for a couple of hours to make cheesecake makes you want to reach for storebought. Chill the cheesecake overnight to give the filling time to set.
9 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (measured from 2 envelopes)
12 ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2-pint baskets of blueberries
2/3 cup blueberry jam ??(or apricot jam, the pastry chef standby)
For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor until graham crackers are finely ground. Add butter and vanilla; process until moist crumbs form. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool.
For filling: Pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves. Set aside.
Blend cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lemon juice in processor until smooth. Add berries; puree until smooth (some blueberry bits will remain). With machine running, add warm gelatin mixture through feed tube and blend well. Pour filling into crust. Cover; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.) Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Transfer to platter.
For topping: Beat cream and sugar in medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spread cream mixture thickly over top of cheesecake. Place berries in bowl. Heat jam in small saucepan over low heat until just melted. Pour jam over berries; toss to coat. Mound coated berries in center of cream, leaving 1-inch plain border. Chill cake at least 1 hour and up to 1 day
Get the freshest berries by picking them yourself. Call ahead to check crop conditions and picking hours before you head out.
• Berry Good Farm, 234 Parker Road, Goffstown 497-8138
• Apple Hill Farm, 580 Mountain Road, Concord, 224-8862
• Fairhaven Farm, 743 Hopkinton Road, Concord, 224-0214
• Brookdale Fruit Farm Inc., 38 Broad Street, Hollis, 465-2240/2241/2242
• Durocher Farm, 448 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, 429-0999
• Hi-Berry Farm, 338 Curtis Farm Road, Wilton, 654-9819
• Zahn’s Berry Farm, 211 Jennison Road, Milford, 673-1908
• Hillside Apiaries, 31 Hillside Terrace, Merrimack, 429-0808
• Rosaly’s Farmstand,South of Route 101 on Route 123, Peterborough, 924-7774
• Smith’s Blueberries, 265 Turnpike Road, New Ipswich, 878-1719
• Blueberry Gardens, 40 Ingalls Rd, Pittsfield, 435-7218.
• Lyon Berry Farm, 986 Route 129, Loudon, 435-7640
• Russell’s Organic Blueberry Farm, 289 Maple Street, Contoocook, 746-3517.
• Deerview Farm, 64 Old Center Road North, Deerfield, 463-7549
• Dimond Hill Farm, 106 Hedding Road, Epping, 734-2117
• Northway Farm, 216 North Road, Candia, 483-2130
• Sunnycrest Farm, Inc., 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-9652/7753
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