Blueberries still in best season
Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The 2007 Alabama Blueberry Festival in Brewton is now a happy and wonderful memory for many of us. Some of the people I talked with were from all parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. According to Judy Crane of the Greater Brewton Chamber of Commerce they all seemed to enjoy the good food, fellowship, and wholesome fun in spite of the sweltering heat. She believes this was one of the biggest crowds we have ever had for the Blueberry Festival and she looks forward to it growing even bigger next year.
Blueberries are among nature's most powerful antioxidant compounds. A 3.5 ounce serving has 1,773 International Units of vitamin E. They are low in calories (1/2 cup = 42 calories), low in fat, sodium free, a good source of vitamin C, Vitamin A and fiber (one cup=5grams of fiber). So they are really, really good for you.
We have received a few questions on how to handle the fresh nutritious morsels. In the past, it was recommended not to wash blueberries because it might cause the berries' skin to toughen. But with the concern about food safety, food preservation experts have developed some guidelines for washing blueberries that minimizes the possibility of the skin toughening.
To enjoy blueberries right away: Place the fresh berries in a colander and quickly rinse with cold water. A colander drains water off the fruit quickly. Blueberries should never be allowed to stand in water. If they do, the skin may become tough. Pat the fruit dry with paper towels and then enjoy them as a snack or in a recipe.
Tray Pack: Spread the fruit in a single layer on baking sheets or trays; berries should not be crowded. Do not wash berries before freezing. Place the fruit in the freezer section of your refrigerator or freezer for 30 minutes to an hour for a hard freeze. When frozen, pack berries in moisture proof, vapor-resistant plastic bags or cartons. Fasten lids or seals securely and return to freezer. Then, when you are ready for a quick snack or to add berries to a recipe, simply open the bags, pour out. Wash berries before using
Dry Pack: Pack berries into containers, leaving 1 /2-inch headspace. Fasten lids or seals securely and freeze. Wash berries before using.
Syrup pack: Pack berries into containers, leaving 1 /2-inch headspace. Cover with a 40 percent syrup (3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of water) leaving a 1 /2-inch headspace for pints and a 1-inch headspace for quarts.
Use ripe, sweet blueberries or uniform color. Wash only 1 or 2 quarts of berries at a time Drain and remove caps and stems, if necessary. Blueberries may be canned in syrup, apple or pineapple juice, white grape juice or water.
Hot Pack: Boil water (1 gallon for each pound of berries) in a large pot. Add berries to boiling water and boil 30 seconds Drain. Pour 1 /2 cup boiling syrup, juice, or water into each hot jar. Fill jars with berries, leaving a 1 /2-inch headspace. Add more boiling, liquid to cover berries, leaving a 1 /2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process in a boiling water-bath canner for 15 minutes.
Tasty blueberries are still available fresh at some grocery stores, produce markets, trucks/stands around town. Get there soon because they are going fast. You can also still buy blueberry bushes this year; and in a couple of years you'll have your very own home grown blueberries.
For more blueberry recipes, information and a free pamphlet call Carolyn Bivins at (251) 867-7760 or send an email to email@example.com OR for information on how to purchase the 27th Annual Alabama Blueberry Festival Cookbook for $10.00 call Judy Crane or Michelle Jones at 251-867-3224 or email them at www.brewtonchamber.com.
Here is one of the most requested blueberry recipes that was a real crowd pleaser Saturday. Add a scoop of blueberry ice cream on top and you will declare that you are in Blueberry Heaven! Yum - yum!
Kiwanis Blueberry Cobbler
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/3 cup water
Mix first 3 items together until shortening is the size of peas. Then quickly mix in other ingredients. Pie crust does much better when mixed quickly. Do not over mix.
Deep Dish Blueberry Cobbler Filling
6 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups sugar
1 /4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Roll out pie crust and place in metal double cake pan. Crust will extend on all sides. Dredge fresh washed blueberries in sugar and cornstarch and place in pan. If blueberries are not up to just below the top of the pan, add more blueberries, sugar and cornstarch in the above proportions. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Fold crust over top of cobbler. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours or until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. [Note: Always use a metal pan when cooking deep dish cobblers. Glass pans tend to stick.]