It’s wild blueberry season in Maine.
In addition to festivals, parades, bake sales and countless other celebrations of Maine’s most iconic crop, now is the time for pies, crisps, cobblers, muffins, jams and other staples of the recipe books of Mainers everywhere.
Whether you’re buying a quart or two from a stand or a market, you’re buying in bulk from a local blueberry grower or you’re going out picking or raking your own, August is the time we stock up on our favorite sweet Maine treat.
While most people love a slice of blueberry pie and blueberry pancakes are a Sunday morning favorite, there’s so many ways to use those 10 pounds of frozen blueberries in your freezer. Here are 10 recipes that use blueberries that go beyond the cobbler. Not that we don’t love a good cobbler, too. We just love blueberries — period.
Baked brie with blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a cup of blueberries and lightly crush them with a muddler or with the back of a spoon. Place a wedge of brie cheese on parchment paper and spoon the blueberries on top of the brie. Drizzle with honey; bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is soft and gooey. Serve with sliced baguette.
Blueberry salad dressing
Blueberries lend themselves readily to salad dressings. They puree easily, and their mellow sweetness doesn’t overpower other flavors. The easiest dressing recipe out there is to simply add a quarter cup each of blueberries, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard into a food processor or blender, blend until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve on the salad of your choice.
Blueberry, balsamic and goat cheese grilled cheese
Set a log of goat cheese out on the counter to soften for a half-hour or so. Take two slices of hearty white bread and butter one side of each. Spread a little softened goat cheese on both slices of bread and top one slice with a handful of blueberries. Drizzle lightly with your favorite balsamic vinegar. Add the other slice of bread and either grill in a pan or a panini press until desired doneness. If goat cheese isn’t your favorite, try another soft, spreadable cheese — boursin or a creamy Swiss, perhaps.
The sweetness of blueberries and the heat of chili peppers are another great pairing. Blueberry salsa is a cinch to make. Simply take a cup of wild Maine blueberries, lightly muddle them with a spoon or muddler, and add to that half a cup of chopped red bell pepper, a chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds removed), a few chopped scallions, the juice of half a lime and plenty of kosher salt, to taste. Dip tortilla chips into it, serve it on top of grilled chicken or fish, or make some delightful chicken nachos. For a spicier salsa, don’t remove the seeds from the jalapeno.
Blueberry agua fresca
Get your hydration, and your antioxidants — make blueberry agua fresca. What’s agua fresca? Nothing more than water with fruits and other tasty things soaked in it. Simply fill a large pitcher or dispenser with water and throw blueberries and any other fruit you like in it, and let it sit in the fridge for four or five hours so the flavors can infuse. Blueberries pair well with lemon, lime, cucumber, strawberries, kiwi, watermelon, fresh basil, fresh mint and so much more. It should keep in the fridge for day or two, though you’ll probably drink it faster than that.
Blueberry, basil and bourbon punch
In a large saucepan, add a quart of blueberries, four cups of water, a cup of sugar and a cup of basil. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool and strain it into a pitcher. Add the juice of two limes and 1 cup of your favorite bourbon and chill in the fridge. When ready to serve, pour mixture into punch bowl with ice, and add 2 liters of plain or lemon seltzer. The strained blueberry mixture can be used for countless other delicious cocktails or mocktails. Experiment and see what flavor combinations you like best.
Blueberry and banana overnight oats
Overnight oats are so easy and yet so effective. The recipe is beyond simple: add half a cup of rolled oats and half a cup of your milk of choice to any container, adding your favorite toppings and then letting it all sit, covered, in the fridge overnight. The next day, you get delicious, creamy oats. What better topping than blueberries and sliced bananas?
Blueberry chocolate bark
Blueberries keep very well in the freezer, so when the holidays roll around later this year you can put those babies to work. Melt the chocolate of your choice in a double boiler and when melted and glossy spread it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet until it’s about a half-inch thick. Sprinkle frozen blueberries — and chopped walnuts, if you like — all over the still-warm chocolate, using your fingers to press them into the chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Break up into pieces and give as gifts to friends — or eat it yourself.
Blueberry face and body scrub
Well, you could eat this, but you’d be better served using it on your body — those antioxidants are good either way! Toss half a cup of blueberries into a blender or food processor and puree. Mix the blueberries with a tablespoon of coconut oil and two tablespoons of coarse, raw sugar. Apply a small handful to face and neck in circular motions and rinse with warm water. Mixture will keep in fridge for a month or longer.
Blueberry dog treats
Everybody loves blueberries — humans and their canine friends alike. Dogs are happy to eat blueberries straight out of the dog bowl or directly from a blueberry bush, but there are countless ways you can prepare blueberries for your pooch. Freeze them in ice cubes for a way to cool off on a hot day or freeze them into dollops of unsweetened, nonfat Greek yogurt, frozen on a piece of wax paper, for a creamy treat. Bake them into homemade dog treats. Or just toss them directly into your pup’s mouth.