This year’s Florida blueberry crop is as sweet as ever. In recipes, these small gems pack a wallop of flavor. I love them muddled in mojitos, plopped onto pancake batter bubbling on the griddle or simply tossed in a refreshing salad.
If you are looking for a blueberry you-pick location check out the Florida Blueberry Growers Association’s website. At the store or in the field, look for blueberries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned. They should have a silvery surface bloom and no leaves or stems. The natural shimmery silver coating is a protectant. Blueberries must be ripe when purchased because, unlike some fruits, they do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Don’t worry about the size of the berries because with this fruit, size isn’t an indicator of maturity. The color of the blueberry is an indicator of its maturity, and it should be a deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish berries aren’t ripe, but you can still use them in cooking.
Here are three recipes that showcase this year’s harvest.
Blueberry-Shrimp Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
12 ounces (about 20) cooked medium-size shelled, deveined Florida shrimp
6 cups mixed salad greens
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/3 cup edamame, cooked and cooled
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1. In a small bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and red pepper. Remove 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette to a large salad bowl; add shrimp and toss; let stand 5 minutes.
2. Add salad greens and blueberries; toss with shrimp.
3. Place salad on plates; top each serving with walnuts, edamame and cheese. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.
Yield: 6 (1/2-cup) portions
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons peeled, freshly-grated ginger
4 cups fresh blueberries
1. In a small pan over high heat, stir 2/3 cup water, sugar and fresh ginger; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Stir in half the blueberries; continue to cook and stir until they begin to burst, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining blueberries. Allow to cool; may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve over waffles, frozen yogurt, or lemon sorbet.
Blueberry Polenta Cake
Yield: 8 servings
1 cup cake flour (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose four)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind, packed
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment or wax paper and spray the surface with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, oil, egg, yogurt, lemon juice and rind; fold in flour mixture until just combined, then fold in blueberries.
4. Transfer to prepared pan; bake until cake springs back when gently pressed in the center, about 35 minutes. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
5. With a knife, loosen edges before inverting cake onto a cake plate to cool to room temperature. Just before serving, sift powdered sugar over the top.