Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Season for Blueberris

For more on pick-your-own go to: http://www.pickyourown.org

It is that time of season when berries are ready to harvest. In June we had Strawberries and this month in Oregon the season for Boysenberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, and Blueberries and ready to for you to use as you please and at a good price. Today we are picking our own blueberries at a local blueberry nursery and making blueberry muffins with our master muffin mix. Hope you enjoy!

Not only was it National Blueberry Muffin Day, but National Your Own Blueberries and that is just what I did with my family. We selected a day and I called various pick-your-own nurseries and we choose Anderson's Blues in Corvallis, OR. I was a large nursery that produced over 10 different varieties of blueberries. They encouraged you to sample and choose as you desired. It was wonderful and a good price. Even though they provided buckets they were happy to weigh the baskets we had. When we were done, we were given the blueberries in a long open box at the price of $1.25 per pound. It was a great expedience to go to with my husband and our little girl who mostly sampled her way through the process. For more information about nurseries in your area go to the web address at the top of this post. (all photos taken by Madeline)

Here are some Picking and Storing tips from Pickyourown.org:
  • Select plump, full blueberries with a light gray-blue color. A berry with any hint of red isn't fully ripened.
  • White and green colored blueberries will not ripen after they are picked; while blueberries that have already turned purple, red or blue-ish usually DO ripen after they are picked (if they are kept at room temperature to ripen).
  • Since blueberries hang on the bushes in bunches a but like grapes do, the easiest and fastest way to pick them is hold your bucket under them in one hand and with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers. The ripe berries will drop into your bucket, while the unripe ones will remain attached to the bush.
(Text taken from Pickyourown.org)

  • Once picked, don't place the berries, still warm from the sun, in a closed bag or container. Leave the container open so moisture doesn't form in the container.
  • Don't wash berries until just before using to prevent berries from becoming mushy.
  • Chill berries soon after picking to increase shelf life. If refrigerated, fresh-picked blueberries will keep 10 to 14 days.
  • Freeze berries in freezer containers without washing to keep the skins from toughening. Place berries one layer deep. Freeze, then pour the frozen berries into freezer containers. Because unwashed blueberries freeze individually, they can be easily poured from containers in desired amounts. Remember both frozen and fresh berries should be rinsed and drained just before serving. Just before using, wash the berries in cold water.
(Text taken from Pickyourown.org)

Cooking Tip#1
Spray inside the muffin liners with cooking spray to allow muffin (or cupcakes) to release as a whole. Also cupcake pans need to be filled to preserve their lifetime use. It is best to fill any empty spots with water.

To get Started with blueberry muffins, I wanted to share the master mix suggestion for those that like to prepare muffins or need to prepare muffins for very large groups (Especially Jumbo muffins). This master mix is a great way to have your own mix handy for using. Once you have the master mix, you can create any kind of muffins you want from then on out.

Master Muffin Mix
8 Cups of Flour
3 Cups of Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons of Salt
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon (optional)
2 Teaspoons of Ground Nutmeg (Optional)

Mix thoroughly together
This will last 6-8 months and make 11 cups of mix.

Cooking Tip #2
When making muffins, separate dry ingredients from liquid. Put all the liquid ingredients at the same time into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a spoon. Stir lightly just until moistened to create a more fluffy batter. Muffin batter should always appear lumpy.

For Melt in Your Mouth Muffins
Take 2 and 3/4 Cups of Master Muffin Mix
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup of buttermilk (or regular)
1/2 cup of cooking oil

Baking Definition # 1
Fold- To fold one mixture into another is to lightly stir until it comes together (not always thoroughly mixed) This concludes the next step- "fold your muffin mix together and then fold your blueberries into the batter".

Cooking tips #3 and #4
The tricks I have learned for making the perfect muffin (or cupcake) is to use a lower heat and fill the batter up to the top of the liner. Although most recipes say to use a high heat of 400 to 425 degrees. I would try 15 degrees lower and they never came out brown and cooked evenly.

By filling them up to the top, it will create a bigger "mushroom" shaped top.

Baking Definition # 2
Streusel- Although streuel refers to a pastry it is also a crumbled topping for making muffins and cupcakes. When you mix flour, brown sugar and chilled soft butter, rake a fork through it and it will make a crumbled topping to sprinkle a top your batter before baking. It is a great way to add a sweet buttery flavor to your recipe.

Cooking tip # 5
When making streusel, make sure your butter is a cold. If it is too warm is will just form a dough. But no worries, if this happens just place pieces of that sugary dough a top your batter anyway. Like I did here :)

They will still turn out perfect!

What is your favorite berry or muffin you enjoy during the summer?
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1 comment:

Rachael and Family said...

yummy I never make muffins but I should try this recipe with a few substitutes. I'll let you know how it works.

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