I spent Sunday morning out at Butler’s Orchard, a great pick-your-own farm about 45 minutes from my house. My pal Lynn and I have gone there for the past few summers to pick blueberries. We’ll go for a few hours, returning home hot and laden with silvery-blue berries, most of which go in the freezer to brighten February oatmeal.
The trick is to get there early; that way, you beat both crowds and heat. This year, we arrived at 8:20 for the 8:30 opening. We were third in a line of cars waiting to drive to the parking field. The parking field, riding the wagon behind the tractor, and finally the rows of bushes. We stayed where the flag-girl first put us, letting the chatty crowd flow around and past to supposedly bigger and better bushes. After half an hour, we were on our own, picking and chatting in that way that works so well around a blueberry bush — the topic of the moment, sometimes deep and often not.
I came home with ten pounds of blueberries and began the freezing: Two cups, washed and picked over well, shaken dry and laid out on a pan in the freezer. Wait a few hours — you’ll have a panful of little blue marbles — then dump the batch into a labeled quart zipper bag, suck the air out and plop said bag in the freezer.
Some berries did not get frozen. Those privileged few — five cups-worth to be exact — became our dessert: Blueberry crisp. Just enough topping to accent the berries and bring out their best, not too much fuss for the summer kitchen. I like a crispy topping, so it’s nuts for me. I’ve tried almonds, but pecans have a kinder nature. They marry well with the sugar and butter, drifting gently into the background while still providing crackle.
This topping can be used to make a peach crisp, or a blueberry-peach crisp, or a peach-plum crisp (use a little tapioca or cornstarch in the filling if you use plums — juicy!). Just grab some of all that freshness around you and make a dessert.
Makes one 9-inch deep-dish crisp
- 5 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 5 tablespoons butter, cut into half-inch pieces and re-chilled
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, mix blueberries, granulated sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, put flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pecans. Pulse four or five times, until everything is mixed and the nuts are finely chopped (but not pulverized). Take butter out of refrigerator and add to topping; pulse two or three times, just until the butter is chopped. If you start to see clumps, stop: You are headed for cookie dough.
Spread topping evenly over fruit. Put pan on a cookie sheets or another pan larger enough to catch drips, and put into preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until topping is browned and the fruit is bubbly.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Or for breakfast (right, Charlie?).
Recipe and photos copyright 2010 Garside Group LLC