A few years ago, my sister and I stopped at a roadside stand in Maine to pick up fresh blueberries. I could not believe the number of bees that were hovering all over the fruit. I had never seen them before but I have never bought them fresh off the farm. Figures my research brought me back to my favorite subject....science.
In May, growers import a billion commercial bees (bumble and honey) to help the native bees pollinate the low bush, berry barrens. Pesticides are not applied—sustainable practices like Integrated Crop or Pest Management are used, instead. The berries get harvested in late July to August, both by mechanical means and by hand-held, berry rakes that date back to harvesting practices in the 1900’s. The berries are individually quick frozen within 24 hours of harvest, so all of their nutrition is retained. And because of their freezing technique, the berries don’t stick to one another in the bag!
Wild blueberries are pea-sized and are indigenous to the cold climates of Maine and Canada. From a nutrition perspective, they are an extraordinary powerhouse source of antioxidants.
Here are just a few tidbits about the SuperFruit—and enjoy the recipe that follows.
Maine produces over 80 million pounds of wild blueberries per year.
Wild blueberries have twice the antioxidants of ordinary blueberries.
Blueberries start off green, turn purple, and then blue as they ripen.
One cup of berries contains 85 calories and 4 grams of fiber.
Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels, which help to neutralize free radicals that can damage DNA.
Blueberries are packed full of polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids, which help to reduce heart disease risk and lower blood pressure.
Some studies have found blueberries improve insulin sensitivity and help to lower blood sugar levels.
The dark pigments (a.k.a.anthocyanins) help with eye health and fight inflammation in the body.
I love to make pies, but little ones are more fun to make! And be sure to check out www.wildblueberries.com for more recipes.
Individual Blueberry Pies:
6 cups of fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed)
1/2 cup cane sugar
2T corn starch
1/4c cold water
1/8 tsp salt
1 T butter
1 T lemon juice
1 package refrigerated pie crust dough (I like Immaculate brand; allow the dough to come to room temperature)
2T Turbinado sugar (optional)
1 egg, beaten
8 oven-safe ramekins
[Note: Cut recipe in half if you don’t need 8 servings]
Combine 4 cups berries, cane sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a pan. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until it thickens. Remove from heat.
Add butter, lemon juice, and rest of the blueberries. Stir until the butter melts. Cover.
Use wax paper to make a template for pastry cut-outs: turn the ramekin upside down on waxed paper. Trace around the bottom to make the template. If you want a draped edge, cut out a larger circle. I like mine to fit inside the rim.
Unroll the pie crust dough on a flat surface (I put it on waxed paper to keep it from sticking). Cut out 8 rounds using the template as your guide.
Divide the fruit mixture evenly into 8 ramekins. Cover each with a pastry round and paint the tops with beaten egg. Cut two slits in each crust. You can sprinkle turbinado sugar on top if you want.
Place ramekins on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil to catch any of the fruit bubbling over while baking.
Bake in preheated oven at 425˚ F for about 20 minutes, or until pastry turns golden brown and it bubbles! Let cool before serving, but serve warm...a dollop of real whipped cream sounds nice!