July 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM ET
July is National Blueberry Month, and there’s no better time to make some delicious dishes featuring the fruit.
Food always tastes better when it's in season and this is especially true of blueberries, which are at their sweetest during the summer months in the Northeast. My local farmers market is brimming with them, thanks to The Orchards of Concklin, whose crop of blueberries is quite possibly the best I've ever tasted. I seriously can't get enough of these berries. I put them in my Greek yogurt in the morning, I bake them into fruit crisps, I sneak handfuls of them when I open the refrigerator. While their sweetness is reason enough to snack on blueberries, the fruit is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives blueberries their deep blue color, and manganese which helps convert fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy.
When picking blueberries, look for medium to large size berries that are firm and have a deep color, advises Ellen Concklin of The Orchards of Concklin in Pomona, N,Y. These will be the sweetest, though it can't hurt to taste a couple while you pick. Store them in your refrigerator unwashed and don't cover them, as the circulating air in the fridge helps keep them dry and free of mold. Wash the berries gently before eating them. If you bake with your berries, toss them in a tablespoon of flour before adding them to your batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom. And if you come upon an especially good crop, buy a bunch and freeze them, so you can enjoy them all winter long. Simply rinse the berries in a colander and dry them well, says Concklin. Then lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and line the berries in a single layer. Put the entire tray in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to an sealed bag and store.
Need some inspiration? Try some of the recipes below!
Tyler Florence's buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries
Open-faced peach and blueberry tart
Blueberry pappardelle served with Jack Daniel's sauce, leeks and langoustine
Blueberry nectarine buckle topped with cinnamon streusel
French toast baked with blueberry-cream cheese
Pat LaFrieda's grilled pork shoulder chops with a mouthwatering blueberry balsamic marinade
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