Prepare for a deep freeze with blueberries
MONTREAL When Quebec’s wild blueberries ripen, smart shoppers know to load up and start enjoying these tiny morsels of flavour. The 2012 crop started ripening in northern Quebec in mid July, first in Abitibi, then in Saguenay Lac St. Jean. Now it’s time to buy extra fruit for the freezer, because this fruit, similar to cranberries, is easy to freeze and keeps well for months.
Wash and dry the berries, spread on a pan, freeze, then package in whatever amounts you like to use for a pie, muffins, pancakes and so forth. If you don’t know your future needs, use one cup (250 mL) plastic containers.
One of the best blueberry desserts is pie; you can give extra flavour to the berries with lemon juice and grated lemon rind, plus a generous pinch of cinnamon. Be sure to cut s michael kors handbags lits in the top crust so the beautiful pur michael kors handbags ple mixture of blueberries and sugar can bubble up and add to the look of the dish.
Another fine pie can be made with a combination of blueberries and sliced michael kors handbags peaches. The combination works well since the two fruits call for the same amount of sugar about cup to 5 cups fruit. Don’t stint on the sugar; blueberries are a sweet and sour fruit.
For breakfast, it’s a toss up between pancakes studded with blueberries and slathered with maple syrup, or steaming hot blueberry muffins. When making the pancakes, I suggest you start the batter cooking, then sprinkle with the berries. This way, the fruit cooks as the pancake cooks and does not dissolve into the batter and turn it blue.
If you are a casual dessert maker, or a minimalist, consider a tip from Saguenay chef Marcel Bouchard. Interviewing him last summer at his restaurant Auberge des 21 in La Baie, I acquired his simplest ideas. One: Combine blueberries, cream and maple syrup. Two: Make a jellied mixture of frozen raspberries, thawed, with their juice, fresh blueberries and gelatin, and serve with or without cream.
We can become more experienced blueberry cooks since we are now offered the big, cultivated type of berries year round, from lands as far away as Mexico and Argentina. This time of year, though, we can pick cultivated blueberries on Quebec farms.
These berries are called wild, but they are really partly domesticated. The plants grow on their own, but get some help from owners of “bleuetires” (blueberry farms). After the harvest, they cut the plants down to about three inches in height and leave them alone for a whole year. So “wild” blueberries are actually from managed wild fields.
Reports from the Lac St. Jean region, Canada’s main source for this fruit, call the 2012 crop a normal one. Growers suffered a few quick frosts at blossom time nothing out of the ordinary and the fruit ripened a little early.
Dried blueberries have the potential of rivalling dried cranberries for use in cooking. Les Bleuets Mistassini, a major blueberry freezing company in Dolbeau Mistassini, recently started dehydrating this michael kors handbags fruit. The result is an excellent product, natural tasting and less sweet than other dried blueberries on the market.
The company’s Bleuet Nordic division uses a system of soaking frozen blueberries in a sugar solution, then drying them. The wild berries, treated only with sugar and a little sunflower oil, keep their colour and stay soft. The other brands I have found on the market use cultivated blueberries and taste more like candy than fruit.
Wild blueberries are so popular, fresh or frozen, that the wholesale price is relatively high, so the dried product is expensive. I found one kilogram bags of what are sold as “fancy wild blueberries” at Yupik, a warehouse store selling packaged dried fruit, vegetables, nuts and candy in March Central. I paid $25.81 more than twice the price of the same amount of dried cranberries for a larger bag than I wanted. On the bright side, I have my snack food for some time to come.
If you want to try this excellent dried fruit, Yupik is in a low profile location. After you enter the market, at the northeast corner of Highway 40 and de l’Acadie Blvd., go east on Legendre St. to the end. The store is open daily. Call 514 787 1600.
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