My wife Ally is having her annual Blueberry craving! In her honor I thought I would address a few burning blueberry questions and share her Sweet Blueberry Tart recipe. Here are a few foodie facts about blueberries. Now you'll have some tidbits of culinary trivia to whip out in case you're involved in a deep blueberry pastry conversation.
The Blueberry Answers
What better way to find out about blueberries than to ask the professionals! Here are a couple of neat facts and trivia nuggets from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
- Botanists estimate blueberries burst onto the scene more than 13,000 years ago!
- Blueberries are indigenous to North America and have deep roots in our country’s history. When Europeans arrived on the continent, the Native Americans were already enjoying blueberries year-round.
- They dried blueberries in the sun and added them whole to soups, stews and meat, or crushed them into a powder rubbed into meat as a preservative.
- According to legend, Native Americans gave blueberries to the pilgrims to help them make it through their first winter.
- Native American Tribal elders recounted how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to ease the children’s hunger during a famine. They called blueberries “star berries” because the blossom end of each berry – the calyx – forms a perfect five-pointed star.
- The Native Americans used blueberries (and their leaves and roots) for medicinal purposes, and developed one of the first blueberry baked goods, which they called Sautauthig (pronounced sawi-taw-teeg). This simple pudding made with blueberries, cracked corn (or samp) and water was a Native American favorite.
- Sautautig became popular among the settlers too; they added milk, butter and sugar to the recipe, and many historians believe it was part of the first Thanksgiving feast.
More Blueberry Facts can be found at http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-facts/ .
Source - U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
The Blueberry BIG FINISH - Dessert!
Wait, those are not all of the facts! Don’t worry I know that they didn't even mention pies, tarts and other tasty treats so here's a cure for your blueberry craving! Just in time for the holiday weekend!
Ally’s Sweet Blueberry Tarts
It’s finally Blueberry Season! I headed to the market in search of Blueberries and was about thirty minutes late! They were all sold out. A quick search of some of the local produce stands provided me with just enough fresh blueberries for a batch of tarts. Can't wait for the next load of berries to be delivered fresh from the farm.
For the Pastry Dough
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Cold Water
For the Filling
1 Pint Blueberries
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
In a medium sized glass bowl, mix flour, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt. Using a large fork cut in the shortening and butter until slightly crumbly. Sprinkle the cold water over the dough and mix with your hands. Form into a ball and refrigerate about an hour. In a medium saucepan mix blueberries, 1 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice and simmer on low until sugar has melted. Set aside. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface (about 1/8 inch thick).
NOTE: I just use a muffin pan to bake them in so I found a glass in my cupboard a little larger than the muffin cup and cut the dough to fit. Two circles each. Line each cup with a circle of dough, spoon in the filling and place the other circle of dough on top.
Brush with a little melted butter and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Rotate the pan in the oven if some are turning golden brown and others are not.
Additional Tips - Cool on a cooling rack before serving because the filling will be very, very hot!
Hope you enjoy your tarts! - Ally Whitaker
Kent Whitaker is a cookbook author and culinary writer with 10 published books. He is also member and AUXCHEF for the United States Coast Guard Aux. Kent and his wife Ally live in East Tennessee with their son Macee and two spoiled dogs. Kent's books are available, or can be ordered, at any book store or online at www.thedeckchef.com . Look for Kent on twitter at www.twitter.com/thekentwhitaker.