Oregon blueberries are one of the first fruits of summer, coming right on the heels of strawberries. This year, according to the Oregon Blueberry Commission, the crop is looking bigger and better. Their data indicates that Oregon’s blueberry harvest could reach a new record with about a 50 million pound crop. Some of them are grown right here in Lane County (check the classifieds for growers).
Blueberries are not only delicious but they are nutritious. The USDA recommends that we eat five-to-nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Just one-half cup of blueberries per day is equal to one serving. If we divide that amount of berries between our breakfast cereal and a cup of yogurt or some ice cream, we’re nicely on the way to meeting our daily goal.
Now, try and swallow this statement: “In general, blueberries are the richest sources of antioxidant phytonutrients of the fresh fruits and vegetables that we’ve studied,” says Dr. Ronald Prior of Tufts University.
So what does that mean to us? Basically, it means that these tasty little berries are powerful disease fighters. Research in laboratory tests indicate that blueberries contain natural compounds that help us stay healthy and may help prevent age-related disease and even some forms of cancer.
But even if none of the above was true, we all know that colorful blueberries are delicious as snacks as well as mealtimes. Try freezing them; then scoop out a spoonful and pop them in your mouth as a snack. They taste like a frozen popsicle. Wonderful!
Isn’t it nice to know that something so tasty is also good for you? The following recipes are courtesy of Oregon Blueberry Commission. Some were winners in the Great Oregon Blueberry Recipe contest. They range from a delicious salmon main dish to dessert. Enjoy!
1 cup Oregon blueberries
2 Chinook salmon filets, 6-8 oz. each
½ fresh ruby red grapefruit
½ cup crushed pineapple
Fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 small Anaheim chile
2 fresh limes
2 tablespoons butter
¾ cup brown sugar
Generously butter a glass baking dish and spread pineapple in the dish. Sprinkle liberally with fresh ground black pepper. Slice the chile into very thin rings and arrange over the pineapple. Squeeze the juice of two limes over the chile slices, then lay the salmon filets over the sliced chile. Peel and trim the grapefruit, and cut it into bite-size chunks and arrange those over the salmon. Top with Oregon blueberries, sprinkle with brown sugar, and season generously with chili powder. Bake at 425° till top is bubbly and salmon is opaque. Serve with rice and fresh steamed asparagus or artichokes.
Combine fresh wild greens and edible flowers for a light summer salad. Include any of the following:
Nasturtiums, Johnny Jump-Ups, Day Lilies, Spinach, Shiso, Sweet Cecily, Endive, Arugula, Belgian Endive, Lemon Mint, Beet Greens, Mustard Greens, Tarragon Leaves, Garnish with Red Onion and Orange Wedges.
Top with Oregon Blueberries and dressing (as follows):
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/3 cup blueberry vinegar (purchase ready-made or use recipe that follows)
2 tablespoons, plus ½-cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove chopped shallot
1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
Mash together blue cheese into blueberry vinegar until cheese is well incorporated. Pouring slowly, in a steady stream, whisk in the olive oil. Add 1 clove chopped shallot, 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon and 1 teaspoon honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2 pints Oregon blueberries
1 quart whole cream
2 egg yolks or equivalent pasteurized egg substitute
1 lemon, juice & zest
Pick through Oregon Blueberries to remove any stems. Simultaneously melt sugar into water, lemon juice and zest to approximately 125°. In another pan, heat cream to about 100°. Puree berries. Add pureed blueberries to simple syrup mixture while still 125° until bright blue not cooked.
In a large mixing bowl combine beaten yolks or egg substitute and a pinch of salt. Then slowly mix cream and yolks together, whisking constantly. Now add Oregon Blueberries to cream mixture. Place in refrigerator for 45 minutes to chill.
For best results, use a 5-quart ice cream maker with an electric motor top and wooden bucket. Chill to 45° with lots of ice and rock salt.
Makes about 1.5 quarts or about 12 half-cup servings.
2 cups rinsed Oregon blueberries
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup (½ lb.) butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
Mix flour and ½ cup powdered sugar until blended. Mix in butter, cut into small pieces with a large fork until dough holds together when squeezed. Press evenly over the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Bake in a 350° oven until crust is golden brown, usually 20-25 minutes.
While the crust is baking, whisk eggs together with granulated sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir in Oregon blueberries. Pour egg mixture over warm, baked crust. Return to the oven and bake until the filling is firm and does not move when gently shaken, usually 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle with teaspoon powdered sugar and let cool at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or cool.