Memories of Blueberry Picking
Blueberry picking in July was a family tradition in our home. My husband’s grandfather Henry Vacinek was an avid wild berry picker. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, he picked them all. Blueberries were his favorite. My husband and son were fortunate to have been invited to accompany him on his berry picking adventures.
Minnesota’s wild blueberries are very flavorful, but are quite small and require a considerable commitment of time to harvest a sufficient supply for baking and eating. Therefore, a good patch of wild blueberries is not a secret to be shared with just anyone. So off they’d go into the Pine County wilds with buckets, coolers and lots of bug spray. Meanwhile, grandma and I would garage sale, shop, do lunch and visit. In general, we just had to tough the day out and wait for their return.
They’d return at dusk, with all of their containers full and themselves covered with horsefly bites. Grandpa’s cardinal rule was “no one leaves the patch while there is a ripe berry left”. According to my husband the rule was strictly observed.
When all of the full berry containers were carried into the house, we’d all gather around our grandparent’s kitchen table to sort and clean the berries and drink a lot of blueberry juice. Grandpa would then retell the details of their berry picking foray. My children still refer to the Vacineks as their blueberry grandpa and grandma.
Blueberries, are again in season. With the fresh blueberries a plenty, it is time to bake some blueberry muffins for that special breakfast or brunch. This recipe with whole wheat flour, buttermilk and lemon zest makes a flavorful, moist and healthy menu choice.
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ cups white flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind (lemon zest)
Combine sugar, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in blueberries. In separate bowl, blend eggs, oil, buttermilk and lemon rind. Gently fold liquid mixture into flour mixture. Fill prepared muffin tins ¾ full.
Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes or until lightly brown and the center of muffin springs back when touched. Makes approx. 12 muffins.
I hope you enjoy preparing and eating this version of Minnesota’s official state muffin.