Brewton blueberry season has officially arrived
By Lisa Tindell
It’s officially blueberry season. And, even though we won’t have the pleasure of enjoying the 2020 Alabama Blueberry Festival this year, I plan on enjoying some of the fruits usually honored at this time of year.
If you are lucky enough to have blueberry bushes on your property you are a seriously lucky individual right now. I’m even jealous of those folks who have friends or family who own enough bushes to share in the bounty of the season.
For many years, the blueberry has been hailed as a super fruit because of the wonderful ways they can help the human body be healthier. According to several sources, blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids (whatever those are) and are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Based on some pretty smart people in the medical world, these wonderfully delicious morsels can lower your risk of heart disease and also act as an anti-inflammatory. That last fact may help those who suffer from arthritis. Bonus!
I will admit, to the amazement of many, that I don’t like to eat blueberries in their raw form. For me, I need those purple-blue berries to be mixed into something like a muffin, cake or even a little (or a lot) of sugar and some kind of whipped cream.
I know that with the Blueberry Festival, there typically comes a cookbook. I remember the days of the Blueberry Cook-off event held in conjunction with the festival back when it was held on the campus of Jefferson Davis Junior College (Coastal Alabama for your newbies) and it was an awesome event. There were cooks who dreamed up wonderful recipes each year and they prepared them for a chance to win the coveted prize of being the best blueberry cook in the area. I have some of those early cookbooks that I have collected through the years and there are a few that I usually put together each year when I’m lucky enough to score a pint or two of these wonderful berries.
If you ever got a chance to be a participant or an on-looker at the cook-off, you are among my heroes and/or heroines. Those cooks who entered the contest each year amazed me and gave me some of my love for cooking. One of my favorites then and even today was a special cobbler recipe that was prepared and entered in the annual contest back in 1984. Many people in our community will probably have wonderful memories of enjoying the delights that came from the kitchen of LaVenia Pettis. I know that her Blueberry Swirled Cobbler became one of my family’s favorites for this juicy fruit and I pull out that old Blueberry Festival Cookbook and scrounge up the ingredients to make at least one every year.
There are recipes in the older books that I still use and there are recipes in the more recent cookbooks that I have enjoyed trying out on family and friends over the years.
I hope that you’ll take the time to pull out some of those cookbooks and find a few recipes that you can enjoy with your family this season.
Although there won’t be an opportunity to purchase the blueberries for the recipes at a local festival this year, I’m assured by some people in the know that local blueberry growers have already begun harvesting this year’s crop and getting them out into the markets where they can be enjoyed by people far and near.
So, I implore you to don this year’s festival t-shirt, or even one that’s still hanging in your closet and gather up what you’ll need to make a blueberry dish that will be front and center on your family dinner table.
Blueberry Swirled Cobbler
1984 Winner – Alabama Blueberry Festival
By LaVenia Pettis, Brewton
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 ½ cups sifted self-rising flour
½ cup shortening
2 cups blueberries
⅓ cup milk
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Merlot butter in a 13x9x2 baking dish. In a saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar melts. Cut shortening into flour until particles are fine crumbs. Add milk and stir with a fork only until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead only until smooth. Roll out into a rectangle about a quarter-inch thick. Sprinkle cinnamon over blueberries and then sprinkle blueberries over dough. Roll up dough like a jelly roll. Dampen the edge of the dough with a little water and seal. Slice dough into 16 slices a half-inch thick. Place in a pan with melted butter (cut side down). Pour sugar syrup around rolls. This looks awful! But do it. The crust will absorb it and make a moist, juicy, yet flaky top on blueberry cobbler. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or mounds of whipped cream. Serves 8.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp. Vanilla flavoring
8 oz. whipped topping, thawed
Blueberry Pie Filling (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, butter and chopped pecans until well blended. Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and press into pan to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until light golden brown. Allow to cool completely before adding filling.
For the filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and beat with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is completely smooth. Fold in whipped topping to combine. Pour mixture over cooled crust and chill for 2 hours to overnight. Pour on one cane of blueberry pie filling (or the filling of your choice) and top with additional whipped cream before serving.
Blueberry Pie Filling
From fresh berries
2 cups blueberries
3 tbsp. Cornstarch
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup water
Combine cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and berries. Heat slowly until mixture thickens. Around five minutes. Cool completely.