Sunday, May 13, 2012

True blue

Blueberries, along with acai and broccoli, have become the hipster's current darling; being used as a natural disease preventative- tossed down American gullets like unappreciated water in hopes of a magic bullet for good health. But Blueberries should not be seen as just a weapon against potential disease. They are brilliantly formed little capsules of flavor and texture that for just one moment, catapults the taster back to our human ancestors, picking berries off bushes in order to survive.

These days, however, people know that the anthocyannins and other antioxidents contained in this wee package of goodness makes this deep blue berry a "superfruit", helping to combat against cancer, heart disease and other problems caused by free radicals.

The remains of the flower are what form the crenelations in the berry.
Accordingly, it's known as the "flower end"; the opposite side is known as the "stem end".

Much like "Bubba" did in Forest Gump, blueberries can be made into dozens of delightful and delicious treats. This useful fruit can work in scones, pies, cakes, cookies, smoothies and syrups, as well as be part of BBQ sauce and meat marinades.

Many people think of blueberries when they think of summertime desserts. Lots of recipes exist for patriotic tarts where the blueberry is used as the canton part of the American flag. This is because the blueberry plant flowers in spring and takes many weeks to become ripe. Blueberry plants need full sun and prefer a sandier soil, rather than a heavier type of soil. It's roots are shallow, so need space to be able to soak up all the nutrients it needs to set satisfactory fruit. We have two blueberry bushes here at my suburban home that I stumbled across while wrestling with a cart at my local Harris Teeter grocery store. Last season, I picked 3 POUNDS of fruit off just one bush, so if you enjoy blueberries and don't have deep pockets for the somewhat high retail price, consider purchasing a few plants to provide yourself as many berries as you care to eat! The plants are cheap and relatively easy to grow. Here are some of my favorite sources of plants:

Blueberry Lemon Cream Scones

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of 2 lemons
1 cup cold, cubed butter
1 quart of fresh blueberries (or whatever you can wrangle together, dried work too)
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
6 eggs, beaten

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cream, honey and eggs. Set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and zest in another bowl, cut in the butter until the butter is roughly "pea" sized. Add the cream, honey and eggs. Mix to combine and drop in 1/2 cup dollops onto a pan prepared with non-stick pan spray. If your batter is too dry, add more cream (or milk) until it loosens up to your liking. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Eat hot with cafe au lait or good English tea!

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