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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blueberries



It's blueberry season in North Carolina, and that's good news for those of us who love them.

Blueberries are big business in our state. In 2008, North Carolina growers produced more than 28 million pounds of blueberries, according to the N.C. Blueberry Council. That's a lot of cobblers and muffins!

Although many of us in this region have blueberry bushes growing in our yard, the bulk of commercial blueberries are grown in Bladen, Sampson, Pender and Duplin counties.

Blueberries are antioxidant rich and provide a substantial punch of Vitamin C and Vitamin K.

My family loves blueberries, and in addition to our traditional blueberry dishes, I'm always eager to try new recipes once I can find the big, fat N.C. blueberries we love so much.

The most recent recipe I tried was blueberry jam. I make a lot of yeast breads, and I enjoy having a piece of toast and jam or jelly for breakfast with my bread. I'm almost out of my sister's peach jam and my freezer strawberry jam from last summer, so it's nice to have a new flavor in the house.

One of my favorite toast toppings is a blueberry fruit spread from Cascadian Farm, so I was eager to see if I'd like a homemade version as much.

There are several versions of this same Easy Lemon Blueberry Jam on the Internet. I was surprised to see that the recipe uses lemon Jello, not pectin. Often, it's the novelty of a recipe that intrigues me, and in this case, it was the lemon Jello that drew me in!

The reviews all point to how easy the jam is to make, and I found that to be true as well. The only change I made was to reduce the amount of sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups.

It only took a few minutes to prepare and cook this recipe and have it ready for the refrigerator. The result is a very tasty jam with nice big pieces of sweet blueberries.

If you love blueberries, give it a try on toast, bagels or biscuits and enjoy the goodness of my favorite blue fruit!

I've also made Crumb-Topped Blueberry Muffins three times in the last month. They are so moist and good! The second time I made them, I topped them with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar instead of the crumb topping. Both ways are delicious. I'm sure I'll be making this recipe several more times this summer.


Lemon Blueberry Refrigerator Jam
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (3 ounce) package lemon Jello
In a large saucepan, slightly crush 2 cups of blueberries. Add remaining berries and sugar, mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in Jello until dissolved. Pour hot jam into jars or containers. Cover and cool. Refrigerate.

Adapted from allrecipes.com



Crumb-Topped Blueberry Muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Topping:
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fill 12-cup muffin pan with liners; you’ll probably only need 10 or 11.
Combine flour and sugars. Pour vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the egg and enough milk to fill to 1 cup mark. Mix liquid ingredients with dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups to about three-quarters full and sprinkle with crumb topping.
To make topping, mix ingredients with a fork.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.

Adapted from allrecipes.com

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