Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen Wand

Care and storage of blueberries (& pie)

With the weather being so different this year, the berries have been at least a month early. Freezing strawberries and raspberries is not my first choice but blueberries are another story entirely. I am told July 13th is also Pick Blueberry Day! so perfectly magical timing.

Unsprayed and straight from the farm, my friend shared some of the 150 pounds she picked up this year. She pops half a cup on her porridge every morning and at that volume they come home at $1.40/pound Canadian, much better than the regular $2.50.

I love having something I can pull out for muffins, pancakes and sauces. I also put away several unbaked blueberry pies for those cold November to February times that we are in truth, getting fewer and fewer of. (Well last year proved me wrong, snow on the ground for five months!)

Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen Wand

You will need:

Pastry for a top and bottom

6 cups fresh blueberries

knife tip of orange zest

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup flour

1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar

In a bowl mix the blueberries, zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and flour and put aside. Roll out half the pastry dough to 1/4 inch thick and large enough for a 10″inch deep pie plate plus the side ( about 13-14 inches in diameter ). Fold the rolled out pastry in half and transfer to the pie plate. Unfold and ease down into the pie plate, making sure there are no breaks.  Fill the pie shell with the blueberry mixture and set aside again.

Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen WandRoll out the second half of the pastry to at least 14 inches in length and cut into half inch strips. If you have a pizza cutter, lovely and one with a crimped edge is pretty too.

Start be placing the long middle strip in the center of the pie and then take a second strip and cross the first strip at 90 degrees, forming a cross.

The third and fourth strips go next to the first strip placed, on either side. Fold back strip one first on one side and then the other, placing strips five and six before returning strip one to Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen Wandits original position. This is creating the lattice work top. Repeat the process with the last four strips, gently lifting and lowering the pieces to complete the lattice with five strips in either direction.

Using a little water as glue, wet your finger or a brush and add water between the pie shell and the strips. Push firmly down to hold the pastry together.

Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut around Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen Wandthe edge of the pie plate to clean up the bits that are too long and then using a fork. press gently around the edges, squeezing all the levels of pastry together. If I were going to bake this pie right away I might go with a fancier edge but since the plan is to pop it in the freezer and other things make end up on top of it, I am keeping to an edge that does not stand above the top of the pie, hopefully keeping it safer.

The options are to leave the edge flush with the pie plate, like the picture below or if you are feeling so inclined, scallop the edges with a spoon for an extra layer of pretty. Dust with sugar.

Place the pie in the fridge until cold and and then wrap and label for the freezer.

Bake the pie from its frozen state in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. The edges should be brown and the blueberries bubbling when done. It might be necessary to add a foil collar to keep the edges from getting too brown.

Allow the pie to cool before cutting. This will give the thickening agent time to set up the juices. Serve warm, plain or with ice cream.

Care and storage of blueberries (& pie) from My Kitchen Wand

The heath family of plants include, cranberries, blueberries and bilberries as well as azaleas, rhododendrons and mountain laurel. Blueberries, native to North America, grow on “shrubs” but left unpruned they can grow to over 10 feet tall. The berries grow in clusters from the size of a small pea to the size of a marble and range in colour from blue to purple-black. Just like plums and beeswax, they have a natural bloom or white dusting on the surface of the berry. The fruit inside is transparent with a multitude of seeds. Different varieties have different qualities. Blue, Duke, Elliot grow in my area but check with your growers to see what is suggested for eating, cooking or for freezing.

Blueberries are high in antioxidants which fight against the free-radicals in a body that damage cellular structure and DNA. Fresh and local is great, best flavour and highest nutritional value as well but not always possible so freezing is a second best option.

Use unsprayed berries and if your source is safe, do not wash. If it is better to wash the berries, placing the drying berries on a cookie sheet and freezing for several hours before transferring to an air tight storage container is one option. Return to the freezer labelled. Repeat as needed. By freezing the berries dry, they will not stick to each other and can be easily measured. So if you are sure your berries are dry they can be popped directly into bags. Leave a little rolling about room. Double bagging helps reduce ice build up from the moisture in the berries inside the bag.

Research into the health benefits of blueberries include, improved brain function, visual support, assistance in urinary tract health, improved digestion and heart health. Powerful little bundles of goodness and worth keeping around all year.

Posted in Lughnasadh/Lammas, Pie & Other Pastries.