Forget the red and white, this patriotic weekend I was feeling pretty blue.
Blue for blueberries. Then there was the color blue, the blue mood and, of course, singing the blues.
Remember in the Willy Wonka movie the girl that turned into a blueberry? Well, I think that will be me after spending the last few days on a blueberry binge. I had blueberries on my granola for breakfast, tried a cocktail made from blueberry-infused vodka, made a blueberry pie, ate handfuls of blueberries straight from the carton, put a peach-blueberry salsa on top of grilled chicken and topped some homemade banana bread with blueberries and cream.
Usually, I don’t feel I have served my Fourth of July patriotic duty until I have made a berry pie. Growing up we always had dewberry pie. Last year I had a strawberry pie. This year it was my favorite summer blueberry pie that is also infused with lots of lemon. I also made several cherry hand pies that were the perfect way to take advantage of the short-lived cherry season.
So while my skin is turning shades of blue, I was feeling blue because the blueberry season is almost over. The pick-your-own farms only have a few weeks left and then the pickings will be slim. Usually I freeze big bags of blueberries to use all year, but it’s just not as good as fresh from the farm. And they are always at the grocery store in the produce aisle or freezer case, but the sweet as candy flavor that you find in summer-fresh blueberries, just isn’t there.
What is still there are the nutrients found in blueberries. This star berry, as Indians used to call it, not only has a small star shape on the blossom end, it is a superstar on your plate.
U.S. Department of Agriculture studies show blueberries are near the top of the list when it comes to antioxidant activity per serving. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals — unstable molecules linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically the anthocyanins that give the fruit its blue hue, are the major contributors to antioxidant activity.
Blueberries are also packed with Vitamin C and fiber and one cup has only 80 calories with virtually no fat.
They are also an excellent source of manganese. Manganese plays an important role in bone development and in converting the proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food into energy.
Blueberries may just be close to perfect. So get as many as you can while they are still in season. Eat what you can and freeze or preserve the rest. We can wait to start singing the blues when there are no berries left to shake from the bush.
Blueberry Lemon Pie
1 nine inch pie crust
3 cups blueberries
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
In a large bowl combine the blueberries, the zest and juice from lemons, sugar and flour. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes until crust is golden and filling is set.