Blueberry season is in full swing here in the Granite State, so if you haven’t had the opportunity to pick up a fresh pint of berries, now’s the time.
We are fortunate in New Hampshire to have so many options when it comes to blueberry picking. You can find dozens of farms to visit or you can often come across blueberry bushes by chance when you’re out on a hike or a nature walk.
Several years ago, my mother asked me to help her pick some berries after discovering a large patch of blueberry bushes in a lot near a friend’s house. She asked why no one picked the berries, and it turned out the property belonged to her friend’s family, who no longer had the time or interest in picking the berries.
It seemed such a waste to let the blueberries go unharvested, so we got permission to pick them, grabbed some buckets and got to picking. I don’t know how many pounds of blueberries we picked that day but we donated most of them to our local food pantry, where they were thrilled to have the fresh picked berries available for their clients.
The commercial blueberry industry is credited to Elizabeth White, whose father, Joseph, owned Whitesbog, the largest cranberry farm in New Jersey.
In the early 1900s, Elizabeth White worked with Dr. Frederick Coville, a U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist, to domesticate wild blueberries growing in the area. They paid local woodsmen to find the sweetest, largest blueberries for their experiments, and by 1916, they had cultivated their first batch of domesticated blueberries. Once cultivated, commercial blueberries spread from the fields of New Jersey to a billion-dollar, worldwide industry.
I run my own experiments every year during blueberry season, trying different ways to enjoy the nutrient-dense berries.
This year I put together a relish to serve with grilled meats (it’s particularly good with grilled chicken thighs), and I found that blueberries are an excellent companion to watercress, one of my favorite greens.
I also made blueberry and white chocolate cookies, which I made with frozen blueberries instead of fresh.
I wanted to use frozen ones to be certain I could recreate the cookies come winter, when the blueberry bushes in my neighborhood are covered in a blanket of snow and my freezer is still full of this year’s crop.
Blueberry Rosemary Relish
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup blueberry jam
Add the blueberries, water, sugar, salt, rosemary, shallot and balsamic vinegar to a saucepan and set over medium high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly.
Remove from heat and stir in the blueberry jam. Transfer to a lidded container and set in the refrigerator for about an hour to cool.
White Chocolate Blueberry Cookies
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir, then set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to a separate bowl and use an electric mixer to cream them together.
Add the thawed blueberries and beat for an additional one to two minutes to combine.
Stir in half of the dry ingredients and mix well to combine, then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in the chocolate chips and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the cookie dough into 12 balls and set them evenly spaced apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the cookies start to turn lightly brown on the edges. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack.
Blueberry and Watercress Salad with Pickled Red Onions
- 1 bunch of watercress, thick stems removed
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 pinches Kosher salt
- fresh pepper for serving, if desired
- bottled balsamic dressing or dressing of choice, if desired
For Pickled Onions:
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the onion slices in a bowl and cover with the vinegar. Let the mixture cool completely before using.
To assemble salad: Add the watercress, blueberries and radishes to a bowl, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.
Toss to coat the ingredients, then season with salt and pepper to suit your taste, and top with pickled onions. Drizzle on bottled dressing of choice, if desired.