So berry good: Blueberries go with everything from Brie to brownies

 

Adeline Fendley of Columbus looks over blueberries in a local grocery Tuesday. July is National Blueberry Month. Read on for ways to use the nutrient-packed fruit you may not have tried before.

Adeline Fendley of Columbus looks over blueberries in a local grocery Tuesday. July is National Blueberry Month. Read on for ways to use the nutrient-packed fruit you may not have tried before. Photo by: Jan Swoope/Dispatch Staff

 

When it comes to uses for blueberries, fresh or frozen, think outside the box - like these blueberry Swiss melts.

When it comes to uses for blueberries, fresh or frozen, think outside the box - like these blueberry Swiss melts.
Photo by: blueberrycouncil.org/pinterest

 

Blueberry Brie tartlets made with honey, lemon juice and toasted almonds are an elegant appetizer.

Blueberry Brie tartlets made with honey, lemon juice and toasted almonds are an elegant appetizer.
Photo by: blueberrycouncil.org/pinterest

 

Blueberry swirl cheesecake brownies elevate an everyday dessert to something special.

Blueberry swirl cheesecake brownies elevate an everyday dessert to something special.
Photo by: blueberrycouncil.org/pinterest

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

What's round and blue and refreshing in the middle of summer's heat? Blueberries. July is National Blueberry Month. The little berry high in potassium, vitamin C and enough good stuff to make the roster of "superfoods" on many health care professionals' "eat this" list is still making limited appearances at area farmers' markets. In much of the hot Deep South, most harvets have wrapped. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy what healthline.com calls the "king of antioxidant foods" long past its Mississippi picking season. In fact, research by South Dakota State University suggests frozen blueberries are even higher in disease-fighting antioxidants than fresh.

 

"I tell everyone to have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day," says Dr. Ann Kulze of Charleston, South Carolina, in a webmd.com article by Susan Seliger. "Frozen are just as good as fresh."

 

If your pandemic-weary grocery list is mired in boring sameness, as mine is, maybe picking up blueberries at the supermarket -- or farmers' market if you're in the right place at the right time -- can add some pop to your menus. Snack on the mildly sweet-to-tart berries whole, sprinkle them on ice cream, oatmeal or yogurt. Or use them in everything from fruity smoothies to pancakes to cakes, entrees and even cocktails, if you're so inclined. Toss them into a green garden salad, make a relish for grilled chicken, a glaze for roast turkey, a compote for pork tenderloin.

 

 

Rhonda Head at The Blueberry Patch in Oktibbeha County had a good crop this year. She was introduced to blueberries years ago in Maine, while her dad was in military service. When her father retired to south Georgia, she and her sister helped a small grower pick berries.

 

"Once you get out there, it's almost like a meditative thing," said Head, who likes making blueberry ice cream and blueberry pie. If this winter and next spring serve up the right weather, and if pollinators do their part, she expects to welcome the public back to her you-pick-'em berry crop next growing season.

 

 

In the meantime

 

When shopping for blueberries, look for firm, smooth-skinned berries with even coloring. Shake the container gently to make sure they move easily and are free of mold, moisture or damage. Kulze notes that the darker they are, they more antioxidants they have.

 

Once you get blueberries home, don't wash them.

 

"If storing the berries for use later, wait until just before you want to use them to wash them," Susan Collins Smith writes for the Mississippi State Extension Service. Washing berries before refrigerating or freezing will make them break down and leak.

 

If purchasing frozen berries, they should feel loose and not clumped together in the bag.

 

Good sources for blueberry info include the MSU Extension Service at extension.msstate.edu. Another good stop that can make this a berry-good summer is blueberrycouncil.org.

 

 

BLUEBERRY SWISS MELTS

 

 

2 whole-wheat English muffins, cut in half

 

4 teaspoons grainy mustard

 

8 slices Swiss cheese

 

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

 

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

 

 

  • Preheat broiler. Arrange English muffins on foil-lined baking sheet; broil for 30 to 60 seconds per side, or until lightly toasted.

     

  • Spread mustard over each toast. Place one slice of Swiss cheese on each toast and divide blueberries evenly; top with additional remaining cheese slices.

     

  • Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling; garnish with thyme.

     

    Note: If using frozen blueberries, rinse before use.

     

    (Source: blueberrycouncil.org)

     

     

    BLUEBERRY SWIRL CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

     

    Prep time: 16 minutes

     

    Cook time: 45 minutes

     

    Makes 16 servings

     

     

    Blueberry compote:

     

    1 cup fresh blueberries, divided

     

    1/4 cup granulated sugar

     

    2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

     

    1 teaspoon cornstarch

     

    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

     

     

    Cheesecake layer:

     

    1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

     

    8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

     

    1/3 cup granulated sugar

     

    1 egg, room temperature

     

    1 tablespoon heavy cream, room temperature

     

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

     

     

    Brownie layer:

     

    1/2 cup unsalted butter

     

    2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

     

    1 cup granulated sugar

     

    1/4 cup cocoa powder

     

    1/2 teaspoon salt

     

    2 eggs

     

    1/3 cup all-purpose flour

     

     

  • In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine 3/4 cup blueberries, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened. Fold in remaining blueberries. Let cool completely.

     

  • For cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan with butter. Line bottom and sides of pan with enough parchment paper to overhang edges. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg. Add cream and vanilla and beat until well combined; set aside.

     

  • For brownie layer: In a heatproof bowl set over larger pot of barely simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Let cool slightly. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Stir in flour. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top.

     

  • Pour cheesecake layer over top of the brownie batter. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of blueberry compote over top; swirl with tip of knife. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until only a few moist crumbs adhere to toothpick when inserted into center. Let cool completely in pan.

     

  • Using parchment paper, transfer to cutting board. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm enough to cut into squares.

     

    Note: Can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

     

    (Source: blueberrycouncil.org)

     

     

    BLUEBERRY BRIE TARTLETS

     

    Prep time: 15 minutes

     

    Cook time: 20 minutes (+30 minutes standing)

     

    Makes 16 servings

     

     

    16 frozen, unbaked mini pastry shells, thawed according to package directions

     

    1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

     

    1/4 cup honey

     

    1 teaspoon lemon zest

     

    2 tablespoon lemon juice

     

    1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

     

    8 ounces Brie cheese, refrigerated

     

    1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds

     

     

  • Bake tartlets according to package directions. Let cool completely.

     

  • In a small skillet set over medium-high heat, combine blueberries, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened to jam-like consistency. Let cool completely.

     

  • Remove Brie from fridge; carefully cut off rind (tip: rind is easier to cut off when cheese is cold). Cut into cubes and place in mixing bowl. Let stand for about 30 minutes or until softened and at room temperature.

     

  • Using electric mixer, beat Brie on high for 10 to 15 minutes or until smooth and fluffy, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Spoon into tart shells. Top with blueberry compote and sprinkle with almonds. For a nut-free option, sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

     

    Note: If using frozen blueberries, rinse before using.

     

    (Source: blueberrycouncil.org)

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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