See that one lonely ripe blueberry next to all the green ones still on the verge? It’s like the older girl in PE class in elementary school. She’s already shopping for training bras while everyone else is begging mama for something other than a T-shirt.
This one Type A over-achiever is ahead of the curve, but all those others are going to mature at once and hopefully, bring forth a major crop of blueberries. We’ve got the bushes draped with netting to keep the birds at bay. (Thanks Corinne Fay for snapping that for me.)
I love blueberries. I often will eat a pint while shopping at the market or in the car on the way home. Blueberries are good and good for you. Blueberries bring to mind fingers stained purple-blue, fruity pies and cobblers, and warm, fresh-from-the-oven muffins. (Check out my Blueberry Cobbler with Honey Peach Ice Cream in this month’s Taste of the South.)
It seems that’s how it is when you grow your own. Famine or Feast. Bust or Bumper Crop. Runt or Ripe. Not sure what to do with the summer bounty heading your way?
Guess what? I’ve got the book for you.
It’s Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables by my friend and colleague, Food Writer Cheryl Sternman Rule & Food Photographer Paulette Phlipot. Ripe was hailed as “one of summer’s best cookbooks” by NPR.
I adore Cheryl’s smart, award-winning writing and the photography in this sweet book is beautiful. Ripe is a petite book, but packed with great recipes and ideas. Pardon the pun – it’s ripe for the picking.
The colors and concepts are made even more bold by the organization of the book. The food is grouped by color. Red. Blue. Green. White. Orange. I love it. It’s downright fun.
This book does what cookbooks are meant to do – it makes you want to cook, it makes you want to eat. It makes your mouth water. It makes you hungry.
This week, in honor of the forthcoming bumper crop, I’m going to share some blueberry recipes including one from Cheryl and my blueberry jam recipe with a bit of candied ginger. Lastly, at the very end I’ve included a slew of links – a bucket FULL of blueberry recipes!
Bon Appétit, Y’all
Ripe’s Blueberry Nutmeg Cake
According to Cheryl, this cake tastes especially amazing when baked one day ahead.
2 cups(220g) blueberries
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup plus 21/2 tablespoons (190g) granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick, or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment.
In a medium bowl, toss the blueberries with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg, and the salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and 3/4 cup (187g) of the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, beat in the sifted ingredients. Do not overbeat. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Scatter the berries and any juices over the batter. Stir the remaining 11/2 tablespoons of sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg together and sprinkle over the berries.
Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
Spring the cake free then finish cooling completely. Slide a wide, thin spatula under the cake to transfer it to a large plate. Wrap tightly with plastic, and, if you can stand it, let mellow at room temperature for several hours, or overnight, before eating.
Tip: While the cake may appear dry when freshly baked, it takes on a fantastic dampness after an overnight rest, and continues to improve with age. (The blueberries become almost jammy as the cake matures.) After 24 hours, I store any leftovers, tightly wrapped, in the fridge.
Recipe reprinted with permission from RIPE © 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group. Photography © 2012 by Paulette Phlipot.
Virginia’s Blueberry Jam
Makes about 8 cups, eight 1/2-pint jars
This is a basic formula for making jam. I’ve added a small amount of candied ginger at the end. The underlying ginger flavor is subtle, but it really complements the blueberry.
If refrigerated, fresh blueberries will keep for up to three weeks. When blueberries are in season, freeze them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Once they are frozen solid, transfer to a freezer-safe container.
8 cups (4 pints) blueberries
4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Place several small plates in the freezer to use later to test the consistency of the jam.
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Squish them a bit with a potato masher or spoon. Let the mixture stand until the berries start rendering their juice, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, sterilize eight 1/2-pint canning jars and lids in boiling water. Remove the jars from the water and place upside down to drain on the prepared baking sheet with rack. Remove the lids from the water and dry with a clean towel. Turn the sterilized jars right side up on the rack, using tongs or a kitchen towel to protect your hands. When they are cool enough to handle, dry them with a clean towel. Set aside.
Bring the blueberry mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will bubble up, rising high up the sides of the saucepan. Using a slotted spoon, skim off any light-colored foam as it collects on the edges. Cook the jam until it reaches the jelling point, 220°F on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes. (You can also dribble a few drops on the frozen plate; if the jelly is about to set, it will crinkle on the plate when you push it with your finger.)
Add the candied ginger and stir to combine. Store the unopened jars of jam at room temperature for up to 1 year. Once the jam is opened, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
variation: For refrigerator or freezer jam, transfer the mixture to sterilized freezer-safe plastic containers or freezer-safe jars with lids, leaving 1 inch of headroom. Freeze for up to 1 year or refrigerate for up to 1 month.
PS: Here are a couple of other blueberry recipes I thought you might enjoy:
Peach Blueberry Tartlets by Tartelette
Blueberry Scones by Steamy Kitchen
Buttery Blueberry Ginger Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree
Blueberry Breakfast Cake by Dorie Greenspan
Mom’s Blueberry Tart by Amy Sherman
Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.