A few summers ago, I posted about how I bought a beachball-type scarecrow to protect our blueberry bushes from the birds who eat them all. I pretty much knew beforehand that it wouldn’t work but I tried it anyways. It didn’t and the birds had their blueberry buffet. Again. This year I finally wised up and put up some bamboo poles, bird netting, zip ties and chip clips to seal up the bushes and now we are finally getting to eat our blueberries. The couple of handfuls my kid and I go out and pick every few days feels like a moral victory over the birds. They are smart, though, and if you forget and leave the netting open a bit, a cardinal, wren or bluebird will swoop in within the hour. Next year’s goal is to prune them properly at the right time of year and get them less leggy and more bushy. But, hey, I’m happy with the baby steps for now.
Some things I have been doing lately with blueberries is to put them in salads: here along with mint, lime, quinoa, roasted fennel, and chickpeas, a satisfying lunch that keeps me on track for eating healthy…
…. that is, until I start making things like blueberry hand pies, like these from Bon Appetit’s website . The fact that you can pick your little personal pie up and eat it with your hands, makes it easier to grab another (guilty). After putting an egg wash on the pies before baking them, I sprinkled on some demerara sugar. I liked how it gave the top a little crunch. I tried this on a another pie I made recently and now I am a complete convert of the “crunchy crust”. It’s a thing now for me; I can’t ever see me not doing this. Sanding sugar or turbinado (sugar-in-the-raw) I think would work the same too.
I also started a few Blueberry shrubs, one with white wine vinegar and one with apple cider vinegar. I like the apple cider vinegar version better. As with all shrubs, my theory is if you don’t like kombucha, you probably won’t like shrubs. It has that same distinctive vinegar-y zing. After a week in the fridge it is fermented and ready but I waited a month to drink mine to let it mellow a bit. (I made mine the cold/slow way, but there is also a faster/hot way.) I usually pair it with some lemon verbena simple syrup, club soda, lemon juice and vodka or gin. Sometimes I drink it sans alcohol in the afternoon. My husband prefers his shrub with rum; he likes how the sweetness of the rum balances it out. He bought some St. Germain liquor the other day, so I can’t wait to fiddle with that in there next time.
Blueberries are cheap in the markets here lately (even organic ones) so I’ve been freezing them for smoothies too. I make sure to let them freeze individually on a sheet pan before bagging them so they don’t become a big brick of blueberry.