The Beautiful Blueberry

Strutting its stuff on the catwalk this week is the Beautiful Blueberry. Their season starts in June and can be enjoyed fresh right up until about 10 days after the last one is picked in September. 

Not being natives to the UK foraging them will be pretty tricky, and as they have only really been cultivated in the UK commercially since the 1980’s, finding good, locally grown ones might not be much easier.  That said, since their rebrand as the original superfood in the 90’s Blueberry growers on this sceptered isle have been on the increase and the freshness you can only get from locally sourced blueberries is well worth any extra effort in finding them.  You might actually taste the true blueberry flavour for the very first time.

Duncan’s Five Favourite things about blueberries

Blueberries - HJ

  • They are one of nature’s only naturally blue foods. Blue fruit get their vibrant colour from plant compounds called polyphenols, in particular anthocyanins, which is a type of polyphenol that is blue.
  • They can make you live longer, Not only do anthocyanins give the berries the colour that names them, but research suggests that they may promote good heart health and reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.  And if that isn’t enough, Blueberries have also been linked to lowering blood pressure and reversing age related memory loss.
  • They are quite easy to grow. They do well in the UK climate, liking acidic soil (most growers use pots) and like to be watered little and often. It takes 5-7 years for a bush to reach its optimum crop, but even before that you should get a decent handful of berries from just one bush.
  • They have a silvery sheen called a bloom that naturally protects them. This means that unlike most other summer berries, unwashed, they will last quite some time after they have been picked, up to ten days. 
  • They are one of the few commercially available fruits native to North America. The indigounous Americans called them star fruits and prized them very highly.  Nowadays, they are virtually synonymous with american cuisine (if there is such a thing), usually in muffins or pancakes, or as a sweet compote served on just about everything.

Blueberry and Rosemary Frozen Yoghurt

 Blueberries are versatile and go just as well in a savoury dish as in a sweet one.  Boil down a punnet of them in half a cup of cider vinegar and a spoonful of light brown sugar and you have a fantastic sauce that makes a great seasonal alternative to apple sauce to go with pork.  Or why not try adapting my cherry BBQ sauce recipe?  Simply substitute the cherries for Blueberries and have a blueberry barbeque bonanza.  If you’re still craving something sweet to cool you down on a hot summer’s day, then try this super simple frozen yoghurt recipe.  The addition of rosemary syrup elevates a childrens treat to a sophisticated desert that will wow any guest, American or not.

Ingredients.

 ¼ cup of Rosemary Syrup (see video)

1 punnet of Blueberries

1 cup of Greek Yoghurt

1 cup of Whipped Double Cream

1 tablespoon of Caster Sugar (optional)

Method.

1)         Chuck the Blueberries and Rosemary Syrup into a small saucepan over a low heat (you don’t want to cook the berries).

2)         When slightly soft (after a couple of minutes) mash up with a potato masher.

3)         Pass mashed up blueberries through a sieve.  Discard the pulp in the sieve and keep the pulp that comes out the other side (I find that listening to iconic britpop band Pulp helps as I do this).

4)         Mix pulp with yoghurt and whipped cream until you have a Blur.  Taste, add sugar if not sweet enough.

5)         Freeze Overnight.

 

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