Sunday, June 26, 2005

Blueberries: Yet Another Reason Why I Love Oregon

Blueberries Grown by Me
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Blueberry season is here! And I couldn’t be happier, as blueberries are my very most favorite fruit. Until I moved to Oregon, I was never able to adequately address my blueberry needs. My mom—an organic gardener—put the kibosh on growing blueberry bushes in our garden, because we would have had to add a crapload of aluminum sulphate to the soil to make it acidic enough for blueberries. And she never bought them either because they were expensive.

As an adult, of course, I was free to buy blueberries, but at $3.99-$4.99 a pint, I could see what my mom was talking about. I’d buy one pint and ration the berries out over a week’s worth of cereal. One of the reasons they cost so much is that they hadn’t been grown anywhere near Chicago. They were picked (probably while still green) in Maine or even Nova Scotia and “ripened” while aboard a truck on some interstate. They were never any larger than peas; there were always a few wrinkly, moldy ones; and at least half of them were cheek-puckeringly tart. In short, they were blueberries destined for people who—through no fault of their own and an accident of geography—didn’t know any better.

Now that I am lucky enough to live in primo blueberry-growing country—our soil is naturally acidic from all the conifers that grow out here—I’ve planted three young, but promising bushes. The berries I’ve harvested so far have been excellent—juicy, sweet, and as big as marbles some of them (as you can see from the photo above). It will be a while before they offer up more than a handful of berries every few days, but that’s OK. All I need do is drive 15 minutes to a U-Pick farm, where there are rows and rows and rows of blueberries just waiting to be picked by me. I did that yesterday, and came home with more than five pounds of blueberries. Plenty to snack on and still leave enough to bake a pie!

Yes--emboldened by my recent (and unexpected) baking success, I decided I would attempt a pie, even though for me making pie crust may rank even higher than yeast breads on my scale of scary baking adventures. The last time I made pie crust (the only time, in fact), it turned out as tough as old boots. Inedible. Laughably so. I couldn’t even saw through it with a sharp, serrated knife. The pie went straight into the wheelie bin.

But blueberry pie—it is just my favorite thing ever and I had to try it. I found a crust recipe that was billed as “foolproof” and sallied forth, despite the fact that I don’t own a rolling pin, a pastry cloth, or one of those marble slab things. I just made do. This is what came out of the oven this morning. I had hoped my pie would be something that I could preen and swagger over, but clearly it is not going to win any prizes at the Oregon State Fair or any other state fair—not even one with lenient standards. I will say that the crust was pretty good, but when I cut a wedge of the pie, a massive, lumpy tide of blueberriness rushed out of the rest of the pie to fill the void. That isn’t supposed to happen! And it is too sweet, although I will shift the blame for that to the cookbook I was using, a 30-year-old piece of stodge from Iowa, where I’m sure the tired old tarts they had/have to use need a whole cup of sugar to make them palatable.

I will regroup and try again in a week or two. In the meantime, I will just gobble raw blueberries (so tasty!) and hope I don’t turn myself into Violet Beauregard from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


Post a Comment

<< Home