Nutritionists agree the blueberry is one of the world’s greatest superfoods.
However, well before science was on the scene, the original inhabitants of North America took advantage of the abundance offered by the land. The natives shared their knowledge of the berries with the European settlers, and now blueberries are just one of hundreds of American foods that have become a part of many cuisines.
When choosing blueberries from the store or farmers market look for berries that are firm, plump, and have smooth skin. Wrinkled blueberries may mean they have been stored too long, and stay away from any batch that contains moldy, soft, or squashed berries. Color is a great indicator of ripeness: red or green berries have not fully ripened; ripe blueberries should range from deep purple or blue to nearly black in color. Refrigerate covered but not airtight within one to two weeks, depending on age upon purchase. Avoid washing the berries until just before using.
To have great berries all year round, buy as many blueberries as possible while in season. Rinse, dry, and freeze in a freezer safe zip-top bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Patting dry the berries will ensure they are individually frozen so you can remove as few or as many as you need. The berries can also be frozen in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then properly stored in the freezer.
If buying already frozen blueberries, feel the bag: the blueberries feel loose in the bag, not clumped. Clumped berries indicate that during some point in the shipping/storing process the berries thawed and were refrozen an unknown number of times. This also goes for most frozen fruits and vegetables such as peas, broccoli florets, and other berries.
A practical trend known as “edible landscaping” has become popular among sensible homeowners. Purely ornamental trees, bushes, and flowers are replaced with plants that produce edible or useful fruits, vegetables, roots, etc, as well as certain flowers that attract beneficial insects.
Blueberry bushes are a perfect example of edible landscaping in many ways. The bushes themselves can be visually attractive and fairly easy to tend. Once the berries turn blue, leave them on the bush a few more days for berry perfection.
Most blueberry varieties are not self-pollinating, meaning more than one bush will be needed to ensure berry production. Blueberries prefer slightly acidic soil (soil with a pH between 5.0-6.0). (Note: Soil testing kits are available at many garden supply centers, or soil samples can be analyzed by extensions/divisions of horticultural departments of some universities.)

Blueberry Freezer Jam

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups blueberries, mashed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons pectin
2 3/4 cup granulated sugar

In a large bowl, toss together blueberries and lemon juice. Add sugar, mix thoroughly, and set aside for 10 minutes.
In a small pot, combine water and pectin. Bring to a full boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add cooked pectin to the berries and stir for 3 minutes.
Ladle jam into clean freezer jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace at the top. If freezing right away, apply caps and let the jam stand in refrigerator until set, but no longer than 24 hours. Serve immediately, refrigerate up to three weeks, or freeze up to a year.

Blueberry Lemonade Pie

Ingredients:
1 recipe pie crust, chilled (recipe follows)
Flour, for pressing out crust
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
4 eggs
2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place 12 silicone baking cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Divide the pie crust into 12 pieces and using floured fingers, press one piece into each baking cup. If making a whole pie, roll out dough and place into a 9-inch pie dish, crimping the edges as desired. Refrigerate until ready to fill.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, butter, eggs, cornmeal, and kosher salt until well combined.
Toss the blueberries with the flour. Fold the floured blueberries into the pie filling.
Divide the mixture among the 12 pie shells or into the 9-inch crust. Place in a preheated oven, and bake until the filling has set and the crust is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes for small pies or 40-45 minutes for a large pie.

Crust ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
One pinch kosher salt
Whole milk, about 2/3 cup

Stir together the butter, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas.
Working in sections around the bowl, add milk one splash at a time to the flour and stir. Continue adding the milk until the dough retains the shape of your hand when squeezed. On a floured surface, divide the dough into thirds, stack, press down, and repeat. Continue to fold the dough onto itself 3-4 times. Wrap the crust in plastic wrap and flatten into a rectangle.
Chill dough, about 10-15 minutes before rolling dough into desired shape.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Streusel ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon cinnamon toasted

Place the blueberries in a bowl and toss with flour.
Add the brown sugar, pecans, butter and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Muffin ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with 24 silicone baking cups or line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.
Place sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until well blended. Scrape the sides often.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add blueberries, yogurt, and vanilla. Beat until blended.
Mix in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
Divide batter among muffin cups. Top the muffin batter with blueberry streusel.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.

Season Stepp can be reached at Season28@aol.com