One of my favourite things about living on the East Coast of Canada is the wild blueberries (vaccinium angustifolium). They are one of the three berries that are native to North America. They grow only in Eastern Canada and Downeast Maine and thrive on the glacial soils and northern seaside climate. Wild blueberries are touted as a “super food” rich in antioxidants and have grown naturally in our area for thousands of years.
We are really privileged to have such a wonderful gift from nature growing right in our region. They are available directly from the local growers in five and ten pound boxes. Stop in to a local stand and pick up a box on your way home. When you get home take out a couple of cups, or the amount you think you will go through in a week, and put the rest of the box directly into the freezer. That is all you need to do to preserve this perfect bounty of the season.
There are plenty of other ways to preserve these antioxidant rich berries like making jams, jellies, and chutneys. Freezing is just the easiest and once you have a big box of frozen berries in your freezer you can focus on other seasonal projects and come back to them when you have more time. Frozen blueberries can maintain their colour, flavour and nutritional value for up to two years.
Frozen berries can be used just like fresh by sprinkling them on top your breakfast cereal, in your yogurt, or added to baked goods. If it weren’t for blueberries my picky baby might just fade away! I can get him to eat a lot of different things just by adding blueberries on top. Last season I bought a 10-pound box, ran out, and had to get another 5-pound box to last us until this season. We eat a lot of blue berries around here and we are not the only ones—wild or low bush blueberries contribute substantially to our local economy.
Another noteworthy topic related to the production of blueberries is the production of some of the finest honey. Beehives are set up in the blueberry fields in the spring to pollenate the bushes. This produces some of the best-tasting honey on earth! So if you are a honey lover, be sure to pick up some honey when you buy your blueberries. It is usually also available from the blueberry stands.
I could go on about blueberries until I turned blue! However, I have said enough for this post. I will get to sharing this delicious muffin recipe I found over at Dates & Quinces: Blueberry Carrot Muffins.
I adapted the recipe to suit what I had on hand. Theses scrumptious and nutritious muffins make use of two in-season crops.
Blueberry Carrot Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached cake and pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup buttermilk
1-2 tbsp. maple syrup, honey or molasses
¼ cup melted coconut oil or butter
1 cup blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a 12-muffin pan or line with muffin cups.
Then I fold my fresh or frozen blueberries into the dry ingredients and I kind of make a well in the centre.
Then I grate the carrots into a smaller bowl; it takes about two medium-size carrots
I take my butter or coconut oil and put it into a glass measuring cup and put it in the oven to melt it while I add the egg and brown sugar to the grated carrot.
Then take the melted butter or coconut oil out of the oven, using an oven mitt of course because it will be quite warm, and add to the carrot mix.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups right up.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 400-degree oven or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool in the pan on a rack for 3-5 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a rack—that is if you can wait that long before munching one down!
I have made these muffins twice with wonderful results. The first time I followed this recipe. The second batch I changed up the spices slightly and added cardamom instead of nutmeg. They were good but I really enjoyed the nutmeg flavour and would not recommend leaving it out. I also diced up some candied ginger and added it along with the wet ingredients. This I would recommend doing if you like ginger and have some candied ginger on hand because it added even more tastiness to the muffin but was not necessary to have a delicious muffin. Check the original recipe for additional substitutions.
The original recipe mentioned that these could be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen. They could then go directly from freezer to lunch box for a quick healthy snack on the go!
I have many more mouth-watering blueberry recipes in the coming months, so support your local economy and go get that box for the freezer!
Jennifer Ukrainetz is Kingsbrae Garden’s plant propagator.