EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 9, 2013

Blueberries? Buckle, cream pie, freezing tips

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — I have wonderful memories of picking blueberries with my family — although at the time, I didn’t think it was so great, it was a lot of work.

My father and grandfather would gather as many of the older children as they could cajole and pack them up for a day trip from Southborough to visit an uncle who lived in Fitchburg, where we all would spend the day high on a hill, picking sweet, wild blueberries. It was hard work on any given day, but one particular time my family picked and picked until it was too dark to see. This hill was prolific with blueberry bushes. I didn’t pick that day, but when the family returned home, my mother and I needed to pick the berries over right away; if left overnight, they would be mushy by morning, and none could be wasted after the hours put into picking them. It took more hours, but as a family, we had picked, and picked over, and packed into freezer boxes 32 quarts of blueberries! We had more than enough berries for the year ahead for blueberry pies, muffins, and shortcake. With a large family to feed, this was a good thing.

It’s hard to find blueberry bushes now; but there are farms where you can go and pick your own.

Tip: If you want to freeze fresh blueberries, pick them over, taking off the stems and removing any mushy ones, or ones not quite ripe, and place in a plastic bag. Do not wash first. Blueberries freeze better when they are as dry as possible. I put them in small zipped bags, a few bags with 1 cup, and a few bags with 2 cups, measured out for a recipe of your choice.

One of our favorite desserts is Blueberry Buckle, which is an old-fashioned cake that is best served warm. It is a wonderful “comfort food” and made more delicious when topped with whipped cream.

Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients

1/4 cup soft butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups (1 pint) fresh blueberries, or frozen, unsugared blueberries

Topping

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, lemon juice, lemon zest and nutmeg.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Blend into creamed mixture, alternately with the milk.

Butter an 8-inch square pan. Spread cake mixture into pan. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the top.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over the blueberries.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until top is golden and wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Here is an additional short-cut version recipe to use those blueberries:

Blueberry Cream Pie

Mix together an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and 2 envelopes Dream Whip (can be found in the baking aisle).

Slice 2 bananas and put on the bottom of a pre-made graham cracker pie crust; sprinkle with lemon juice.

Spoon cream mix on top of bananas.

Mix 1 cup fresh blueberries with 1 can blueberry pie filling; spread on top of cream filling.

Refrigerate 4 hours.

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Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com.