My mother was always very good about keeping a detailed baby book for each of her three babies. We cherish our books now, especially the detailed entries for each month and year of our little lives dutifully recorded in my mom’s tidy handwriting. I don’t actually know where she found the time. It’s a mystery. But I thank her for it.
A very early entry in my baby book reads: “Maria’s favorite color is PURPLE!!!”
We’re talking very early. At only a few months of age, I had somehow managed to impress upon my mother my absolute, unapologetic devotion to purple. Little has changed. Purple is a part of my soul, a hallmark of my identity. I love it. It makes me happy.
It is, then, perhaps not surprising that I get so excited for blueberry season. They may be called “blue,” but they manage to hit almost every shade of purple imaginable. They are really a deep indigo when raw, and then the most vibrant fushia-like purples and dark violets when cooked. They leave little purple, juicy blotches in muffins and pancakes. They become a lake of bubbling bright purple studded with dark, almost aubergine-colored berries in cobblers and pies. They make a beautiful midnight purple jam. I love it all.
Unlike strawberries, blueberries have a relatively long season and they keep pretty well in the fridge. For my blueberry extravaganza I went to the same farm we visited for our strawberry picking festivities: Abbott Farms in Baldwinsville, NY. It’s a huge farm with vast fields and all manner of pick-your-own crops. I went in the morning when the weather was cool and sunny. Blueberries are a little tricky to pick, so it took some time to get the 12 pounds I ended up bringing home. The berries sit in clusters on the bushes, almost like grapes, but the bushes can become quite massive and unwieldy. The berries in a single cluster don’t necessarily ripen all together, so you have to be careful to pick only the ripe berries. As I said, this took me quite a while, and I gained a new appreciation for the relatively high price of blueberries in the grocery store. Someone has to pick those little babies by hand, and it’s a lot of work.
The farm I visited had big, juicy berries. I do love the smaller cultivated varieties and the itty bitty wild blueberries. Those tend to pack a little more flavor, but these big juicy ones were really great. They taste like the height of summer, when the world has been soaking up the sun for weeks and weeks on end. Some folks will say that these sorts of berries aren’t as good for baking because they’re too juicy, but I have had no troubles at all. In fact, everything has turned out great.
So far, I have made…
Jam. I’ll blog the jam recipe soon.
Muffins, from the King Arthur recipe. I often have trouble finding a good muffin recipe. This one is great for a cake-like muffin. It’s almost like blueberry pancakes in muffin form.
…and Cobbler. I’m not really one for the fuss and work of pie, so my go-to fruit dessert is often cobbler. I love how the biscuits cook in the bubbly purple liquid. This, with a scoop of ice cream, was dessert on the occasion of our recent wedding anniversary. Yum. I used the recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. They don’t publish their recipes online, but this blogger has posted it.
So far, every purple food I’ve made with my bounty of berries has been delicious, and, after freezing a lot of the remaining berries, I still have some left in the fridge for my cereal and yogurt. Did I mention that 12 pounds is really a lot of berries? It is. A whole lot. But my mother is coming to visit this weekend, and we might have to venture out to the farm again so she can have a bounty of her own.
I said I wanted to be better about paying attention to the local pick-your-own seasons, and so far I’m doing pretty well. I think raspberries will be next on my list. But alas, we’re creeping ever closer to apple season. That’s really the crowning glory of the central New York crops, but it also means that autumn is on its way. I’d rather not think about that just now, so I’ll go put some blueberries in a bowl of yogurt and enjoy the summer while it’s still here.
Happy berry season!