This is a good blueberry year. The rain we had in the early spring and the cold winter temperatures helped make the berries plump and delicious. They are fun to snack on as you work in the garden and fun to take home for later.
Many gardeners are frustrated when the birds get to the berries first. One recommendation is to put netting over the plants. This is not a perfect solution as it makes it hard for you to harvest the blueberries. And, it is extremely sad to deal with a bird caught in netting. Some gardeners tie aluminum pie pans to the bushes. The sun reflecting off of the pan and movement of the pans with wind can help deter birds. Experienced gardeners will advise to just keep the bushes picked. As soon as the berries are ripe harvest them; don’t leave the blueberries on the bushes ripe for very long. This seems to be an invitation for birds.
Now that you have an abundance of delicious berries what can you do?
To store them frozen, freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After they have frozen, pack the berries in containers or freezer-type plastic bags and return them to the freezer. You can take them out of the containers a few at a time. Wash the berries just before you use them. This way you can enjoy blueberry muffins and cobblers all winter! You can also put up some blueberry jam. Canning supplies are found in some big box stores as well as many local hardware stores. Preserving Food: Jams and Jellies has great information for the beginning jam maker, including a berry jam recipe.
For summer eating, nothing is as good as a Blueberry Crisp. This recipe is from a Cobb County Master Gardener Volunteer, Beth St. Jean, and is published in Farm to Table which is a collection of recipes from the Master Gardeners of Cobb County. It is the perfect use for blueberries!
- 3 T all-purpose flour
- 2 T granulated sugar
- 6 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together in a large bowl the flour and sugar. Gently toss in blueberries and lemon juice. Spread berry mixture in bottom of ungreased baking dish. Set aside. To prepare the topping, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the berry mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbly. After cooling for 45 minutes, may be served with ice cream on top!
If you don’t have blueberries in your community garden yet, we will discuss how to do that in a later post closer to the appropriate planting time. Meanwhile, know that your local UGA Extension Agent can help you with any blueberry plant questions or problems.