This has been the summer of wild blueberries. First on my trip to Maine in August and then in the Northern most reaches of Minnesota just this past weekend. Maine is certainly known for their abundance of wild (or low bush) blueberries. In fact, they produce about 25% of all that are consumed in America. We couldn’t drive a mile without seeing a stand selling baskets of the little blue beauties or jams, pies and other treats made with them. All of which we stopped and tried. Research!
Minnesota’s crops of wild blueberries are a virtual secret. Really, neighbors and best friends don’t even share their favorite picking spots with each other. A friend of mine once told me her mother would disown her if she shared the location of her blueberry patch with me. She wasn’t kidding. On a recent trip to a friend’s cabin (she must remain nameless lest her neighbors happen to read this) she took me berry picking. Yes, we are that good of friends. We drove along a stretch of two lane highway, then down a dirt road for forever and parked on the side of the road where we walked a mile deeper along a path. At the end of the journey was an opening and the entire floor of the forest in this clearing was carpeted in crimson leaves of the blueberry bushes. The clearing had signs of forest fire, which it turns out promotes the growth of the wild berries. We got the very last pick of the season; it was a bit of work to find enough berries to make this crisp, but we were determined. Just two weeks earlier my friend had been to this same spot and picked a bounty. I could see the potential. I wait with bated breath for next year and will beg an invitation during the heart of the season.
When we returned to her cabin I made this crisp:
(My husband Graham picking wild blueberries in Northern Minnesota)
(Maine wild blueberries from a road side stand)
Wild Blueberry Crisp:
5-6 cups wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your berries)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup white whole wheat flour (I’ve also made it with all-purpose and whole wheat)
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 stick butter, melted
To make the Berry Crisp:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a Baking Dish, set aside.
Place the berries in a large bowl, set aside.
Whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Sprinkle over the berries and toss together. Add the lemon juice and toss until well coated. Place in a baking dish.
Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, spices and zest in a bowl. Add the melted butter and toss until it is all well combined.
Spread the topping over the blueberries.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the berries are bubbling vigorously all along the edges and the topping is golden brown.
Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or nothing but a spoon!
Also try my blueberry cobbler.