It’s Blueberry Time on the Farm

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One of the great benefits of living on a farm is the availability of produce from other farmers. For me it’s a big part of why I chose this lifestyle. Every chef dreams of being able to prepare just picked produce. All the years in the kitchens I longed to be able to grow my own. Now I can.

This will be my third summer on the farm – Wynyates Farm. After fighting marauding pests that consumed half my crop for the last two summers, I have learned a few lessons. It is not just pests, it is also the malevolent weeds that threatened my harvest. I learned very quickly and in real terms why organic produce is so expensive. The labor that is required is very intensive. No rest for an organic farmer. For fun I like to visit local farms and pick what I do not grow myself.

This is a great group activity … you can pick a lot of blueberries in a short time.

You can gather a lot in a short time.

I just got back from picking organic blueberries from a local farm on Georgian Bay, Ontario. I took a crew with me, and we ended up with almost 40 pounds of berries for $62! I encourage everyone to locate an organic pick-your-own. These are the very best berries to freeze to use later. They bake up perfectly in muffins, scones and quick breads and crisps. Blueberries are fabulous in smoothies, in yoghurt and in your morning cereal. We all know about their health benefits, and freezing does not destroy their anthocyanin antioxidants. Read this report on The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Everyone pitches in and gets to eat the “fruits” of their labors.

Holding the spoils of the day.

Fresh blueberries on the bush.

I made blueberry-champagne preserves – they are delicious with blue cheese and on croissants and hearty multigrain bread. I also use preserves in my berry crisps and in my pies; they add a depth of flavor.

An enormous basket of berries.

Homemade Blueberry Preserves

Here is my blueberry loaf recipe – enjoy! The best part is that it is so low-fat and packed full of berries. This is delicious on its own, but you can slice and serve it with frozen vanilla yoghurt or ice cream.

Go out and pick some blueberries or buy local organic – you will be very happy you did. I see it as a great way to spend a few hours getting to know how berries are picked, to release your inner harvester, and it’s fun to witness your own ability to decide on berry ripeness and to snack along the way – your blue lips are a dead giveaway.

Be sure to rinse the berries before freezing, eating or processing.

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Loaf

Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Yields 1 large loaf.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 55 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh blueberries; frozen will work just as well.
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil – sunflower, peanut or canola; melted butter can be substituted.
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste; lime is great, too

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in lemon zest and blueberries.

In another bowl, beat eggs; add milk, oil and lemon juice. Stir into dry ingredients, just until moistened.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick tests clean.

To make glaze: Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil on stove over medium heat; cook until thick, about 5 minutes. If glaze gets too thick as it cools, place over gentle heat.

After removing loaf from oven, while still warm, brush or drizzle glaze over bread while still in pan. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove loaf to wire rack to cool completely.

Cut and enjoy! This is a great food gift or bake-sale item.

Blueberry loaf on my kitchen table

Blueberry Hand Pies on my front porch.