Contributing Writer

Now is the time to pick and enjoy blueberries. Depending upon the variety, blueberries ripen from June through August. Whether you have blueberry bushes, go to a blueberry picking farm, or just pick up a pint or two at the grocery store, now is the time to take advantage of their abundance and fresh flavor. You may also want to freeze them for later in the fall or winter. Blueberries that have not been washed should stay fresh, if refrigerated and kept dry, up to two weeks. To freeze, place dry, unwashed blueberries in plastic bags or containers and freeze. When using them to in a recipe that will be baked, use them frozen so they will not “bleed” in your recipe. For measuring purposes, 1 pint fresh blueberries equals two cups. Try one of these!

Baked French Toast with Blueberries
Loaf French or Italian Bread, cut in half-inch slices
4 eggs
1/2 C. milk
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
5 C. blueberries
1 C. coarsely-chopped nuts
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. butter, melted
Powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Place bread on an ungreased baking pan with a lip. Whisk eggs, milk, baking powder, and vanilla extract together; slowly pour mixture over the bread, turning to coat the bread completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or overnight. Combine blueberries, nuts, cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch and then place into prepared baking pan. Lay bread on the berry mixture. Wedge slices in tightly, cutting some pieces to fit, if necessary. Brush tops of bread with melted butter and bake 20 to 25 minutes until the toast is golden and the berries are bubbling around the sides. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Blueberry-Lemon Iced Tea
1-1/3 C. blueberries
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice
4 C. water
3 family-size tea bags
3/4 C. sugar
Bring blueberries and lemon juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, five minutes. Remove from heat, and pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard solids. Wipe saucepan clean.
Bring four cups of water to a boil in same saucepan; add three family-size tea bags, and let stand 5 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in 3/4 C. sugar and blueberry juice mixture. Pour into a pitcher; cover and chill one hour. Serve over ice.

Blueberry Vinaigrette 1 C. olive oil
1 C. blueberries
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 T.s brown sugar
2 tsp. minced shallot
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Process in a food processor until smooth. Chill at least half an hour before using.
Blueberry Sauce 5 C. blueberries
4 C. water
2 C. sugar
6 1-inch strips of lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler
3 T. fresh lemon juice

In a pot, combine the blueberries with one cup of the water. Crush the berries with a potato masher and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Strain the juice into a heat proof measuring cup, pressing hard on the solids. Discard the solids.

Rinse out the pot. Add the sugar, lemon zest and the remaining 3 cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup over moderate heat until it registers 225 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Add the blueberry juice and lemon juice and boil over high heat for 1 minute. Let the syrup cool, then discard the lemon zest. Pour the syrup into just-cleaned bottles. Seal and refrigerate for up to six months.
Blueberry Chicken Pasta Salad
1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 C. whole-wheat pasta, cooked
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C. chicken broth
1/3 C. crumbled feta cheese
3 T. lime juice
1 C. fresh blueberries
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. freshly grated lime zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute onion in oil, cooking until just softened. Add broth, Feta and lime juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the feta begins to melt. Combine chicken and pasta in a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and toss.
Pork Chops with Blueberry Sauce 2 lbs. boneless pork chops, 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C. flour
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 3/4 C. chicken broth
1 C. blueberries
2 T. butter

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Coat with flour, shaking off excess. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Place pork in the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned. Transfer pork to a platter. Add the onion to the skillet and saute till just tender. Add the chicken broth and blueberries, bring to the boil and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and return the pork and any juices to the skillet. Cook until heated through, then serve.
Blueberry Sherbet
2 C. fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 C. fat-free buttermilk
1/2 C. sugar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Garnish: fresh mint sprig
Process first five ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch square pan; cover and freeze four hours or until firm. Process frozen mixture, in batches, in a blender until smooth. Cover and freeze four hours or until frozen. Garnish, if desired.