If you live here, have a cabin camp here, or just visit you know that August is Wild Blueberry month in the state of Maine. I am sure other states grow blueberries, but as a proud Mainer I must say the best blueberries grow in Maine.
Now that I have my pride statement out of the way I can get down the real business at hand: What to do with all those wonderful Maine blueberries.
Like many things that grow in the wild, the Maine blueberry tends to be much smaller then the blueberries you get in the grocery store in the middle of February, but the favor is really intense and you probably want to take a big handful and shove them in your mouth. Please try to hold off until you can at least pick the stems off them, it detracts from the flavor. Hah, you thought I was going to say wait until you wash them off. I guess that’s a good idea if you have that much restraint, I personally never make it that far.
If they make it home there are a lot of different ways to use blueberries. First and foremost, shoving them in your mouth (I’ve already mention that technique haven’t I?). OK, there is blueberry and yogurt, blueberry and ice cream, blueberry and… I think you get my point. You can put blueberries on just about anything.
Now for the many things you can put blueberries, besides directly in your mouth (my goodness I am single minded today, it’s probably all the trips to the Farmers Market and roadside stands). Anyway, where was I, oh yes; all the things you can put blueberries in. The first would probably have to be blueberry pie; everyone knows how wonderful blueberry pie is, but if you don’t like blueberries or pie I’ll write about something else next time. Blueberry pancakes, scones, ice cream, and they are great in salads and on cheese plates. There are some amazing BBQ sauce recipes made with blueberries and I have even known people to use them in smoothies (who knew?).
I bet you thought I forget blueberry muffins. Nope, I saved them for last because they are my most beloved way to use blueberries, which is why I am going to share one of my favorite blueberry muffin recipe with you. It’s pretty basic so the flavor of the berry shines through.
One of my other favorite things to do with wild Maine blueberries is to flash freeze or dry-pack freeze (same thing) them so I have them during the winter, when I have shoveled snow for the umpteen dozen time I can have something warm and tasty and I can be reminded of the wonderful summers in Maine.
Flash freezing blueberries or almost any type of berry fruit is pretty simple.
First rinse off the berries; this time it is really important unlike when you were shoving those berries in your mouth at the farmers market. As I was saying rinse the berries and pick off any steams.
Then make sure all the extra water is off the berries so when you thaw them they aren’t mushy. You can do this in a clean tea towel, but realize that blueberries can stain so don’t use any of your ‘put out for guest’ tea towels.
Next you want to put a piece of parchment paper on an edged cookie sheet. I say edged because they tend to roll off on their way to the freezer if you don’t.
Spread the berries out in a single layer and put them in the freezer.
In about four hours take them out and divide them up into portions, however you plan to use them. A muffin recipe is a cup and half average and pie is about 3 to 4 cups; whatever you decide put them in a freezer bag, then off to the freezer they go.
No matter how you divided them up you’re still going to have gorgeous wild Maine blueberries in the winter and that is a beautiful thing.