Yesterday I came home to a package from the US Highbush Blueberry Council. It was bursting with cartons of blueberries! I was thrilled. It’s high season for freshly-picked blueberries which runs from mid-June to mid-August. The selection I received was perfect: firm, plump dry berries with smooth skins and a silvery sheen. And, I did exactly what I was told, I refrigerated the blueberries as soon as I got them and knew that I had to think of as many ways to use them within 10 days!
Blueberries always have a reserved spot on our refrigerator shelf because, in addition to their sweet, delectable flavor and visual appeal, they are jam-packed with good nutrition too! Virtually fat free, they’re a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C and an excellent source of manganese. And, since the USDA claims we should be eating 2 cups of fruit per day, blueberries help make that an easy goal since there are myriad ways to eat them. My son loves them sprinkled in his morning yogurt, my daughter loves blueberry pancakes, and I’ve just started making blueberry smoothies. Oh, and who could forget Mom’s Blueberry Brunch Cake!
Since it’s officially summertime, and we’re all about enjoying the harvest of fresh fruits and veggies available from the garden (or farm), we’re also focusing on light, refreshing, hassle-free dishes. A summer salad containing blueberries, cucumbers and feta cheese sounds simple yet heavenly. And, since I’ve just planted cucumbers and cilantro in my garden, I’m not going to travel past my back yard for most of the ingredients. Can it get any easier?
When working with blueberries, make sure you know the basics (I didn’t):
- Fresh blueberries are available year-round. You can buy North American blueberries from April-October and South American Blueberries from November-March.
- Frozen, can or dried blueberries are never out of season.
- Always rinse your berries before use.
- Color does matter. Reddish berries aren’t ripe but, can be used in cooking/
- Store blueberries in the fridge in their original pack or a covered bowl or storage container. Blueberries should keep their freshness for up to 10 days.
- If you freeze your blueberries, make sure your berries are unwashed and completely dry. Discard all bruised or shriveled berries. Place the berries (still in their original pack) n a re-sealable bag. The berries will freeze individually and you can remove and use the portion you need.
So, get inspired by all the fresh fruit that’s available this summer, especially your blueberries.
They’re as convenient in baked goods, salads, smoothies, and sauces as they are when you simply rinse and eat- no peeling, pitting or slicing needed!
Yields 4 cups
- 1 cucumber
- 2 cups fresh (organic) blueberries
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup fresh, crumbled feta cheese
- Cut the cucumber in half, lengthwise. With the tip of a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Cut into thin slices.
- In a large bowl, toss cucumber, blueberries, scallions.
- In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper.
- Pour liquid mixture over cucumbers and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle feta on top and gentle toss again.
- Refrigerate prior to serving.