Every July you can look forward to fresh blueberries making their debut in the home garden, farmer’s markets and grocery stores. This sweet, blue-purple fruit is a wonderful accompaniment to breakfast cereals, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, baked goods and just as a stand alone snack.
Blueberries are not only delicious, but good for you as well. Blueberries are loaded with fiber, rich in vitamin C, and low in calories.
While it is great to enjoy blueberries while they are in season and more affordable, it is very easy to freeze some of the harvest to enjoy during the off-season months.
First select ripe, full-flavored berries. Remove any leaves, stems and immature or defective berries. Do not wash berries that will be dry packed, as washing will make for a tougher skinned product. Pack berries in freezer grade containers, leaving headspace to allow room for expansion. Berries can also be frozen first on a tray, then packed into containers once frozen. Seal and freeze. Wash before using.
If you choose to crush or puree the blueberries before they are frozen, they must be washed first. Then crush, pressing berries through a fine sieve, or by using a blender or food processor. Mix 1 to 1 1/8 cups of sugar with each quart (2 pounds) of crushed berries or puree. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.
Here a few blueberry recipes to try from Oregon State University Extension Service. Enjoy!
WHOLE WHEAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
⅓ cup nonfat or 1% milk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat the bottoms of 12 muffin cups with oil or baking spray.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, blend vegetable oil, egg, milk and applesauce until smooth. Stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until just moistened. Lightly stir in the blueberries.
4. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full.
5. Bake about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
Note: This recipe can use all-purpose flour or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat. To bake as a loaf, use an 8 or 9-inch bread pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. Makes 12 muffins Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 teaspoons margarine or butter, softened
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place blueberries in a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix margarine, flour, sugar, oats and cinnamon.
4. Sprinkle oat mixture over blueberries.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy warm!
6. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Makes 2 cups Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
⅔ cup chopped peaches, fresh, frozen or canned/drained
⅔ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 Tablespoons granola
1. Divide yogurt between 2 glasses or dishes.
2. Spoon half of the peaches and blueberries on top of yogurt in each glass.
3. Sprinkle each sundae with granola.
4. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Makes 2 cups Prep time: 10 minutes
Sources: Blueberries: Tasty and Healthy!-Michigan State University Extension; So Easy to Preserve, The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension; and FoodHero.org Oregon State University, Oregon State University Extension Service