Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Petrea's Kitchen Tips: Blueberries

Friends are coming for breakfast today. Isn't that grand, in the middle of the week? Each of us is grabbing an hour or so out of a busy schedule to indulge in coffee and talk. I'll lay off the caffeine so the laughing won't be too strident.

Because people will bring things to eat and the house was already clean, I used yesterday to prepare in irrelevant ways: I cleaned the oven (we won't be baking), trimmed the rosemary bush (it could have waited), returned a library book (talk about irrelevant) and went to the grocery store (we did need eggs).

And I washed some blueberries. A tip: wash them in very warm (not hot) water, then let them dry completely on a towel before you put them in their basket in the refrigerator. They'll last longer.

Petrea's Kitchen Tips is probably not going to become a series. This is the only one I can think of offhand.

36 comments:

Latino Heritage said...

And take a great picture - one where you can almost taste the sweetness in the fruit.
I don't eat berries and my eyes kept going back to them. Lovely.

Saretta said...

Blueberries in February? Oh lucky you!

Kris said...

I could sit and eat blueberries all day long.

dive said...

Yummy!

Shell Sherree said...

I'm making a mental note of your blueberries tip, Petrea ~ sounds most quirky but I'd trust anything you told me.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I keep blueberries in the fridge when we can find them and we pick them locally in the summer, but I did not know this trick!

Hope that breakfast with friends was wonderful...

G

Margaret said...

What a pretty picture. Leave it to you to find the beauty in something so pedestrian. I like your tip. I hope you do think of more.

Katie said...

Delightful photo! I just washed a handful of blueberries (in cold water, oops), dried them slightly on a towel not as pretty as yours, and tossed them in a little container to take to work to add to my cereal later. Ok, ok, so they aren't local but I don't care as they taste delicious.

Virginia said...

That's one more tip than I could come up with. Great photo! I can't wait to see your kitchen again! :)
V

Steven said...

Those would be perfect added to my sourdough (more than 100 years old) pancakes. Blueberries are my favorite.

Speedway said...

That picture looks as fresh as the spring, eagerly anticipated as we huddle from a massive ice storm. The colors of the blueberries and their basket look so pretty! The groundhog probably needed to thaw his door open this morning with a hairdryer. I bet he wants to become Pasadena Phil, with a little bowl of blueberries to snack on in celebration of his day.

Petrea said...

I am a bad consumer because I didn't look at the label and I don't know if these are local or not. I'll check next time. We've had some cold days here but I think they come from farms near Ventura, which is only about an hour away. I'd call that local.

I can't remember where I learned this trick, but as I eat blueberries all the time it comes in handy for me. I can buy them in bigger batches.

Steven, as much as I like antiques, 100-year-old pancakes do not sound appetizing, blueberries or no.

Steven said...

lol The sourdough starter originated over 100 years ago in Alaska. Even the Goldrush Forty-Niners of your state guarded their sourdough like it was gold.

Petrea said...

This is why my kitchen tips will likely not be a series. I didn't know sourdough had a starter, and I have only the vaguest idea what a starter is.

TheChieftess said...

Another blueberry kitchen tip...they freeze beautifully!!! I'll pick up raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries at the grocery store, take em home, wash em, throw them in baggies and put em in the freezer!!! They stay perfect, I can use them in smoothies etc...next best thing to fresh!!!

Clifford Beshers said...

A starter is just a small culture of the sourdough yeast housed in flour, water and possibly a little sugar. There are many strains of yeast, very few produce good sourdough, so the starter trick preserves a particular flavor. It also takes time to gather enough local yeast from the air, so even if using a random yeast, you still get a jump on quantity with a starter.

France is lucky in that they have lots of wonderful strains of yeast. I've read that many of the distinctive wine flavors that people seek just occur naturally there because that's where those yeast originated. The same is true for yeast in San Francisco; it makes fabulous bread, but unfortunately is unique to that region.

Small food producers are beginning to experiment more with their local microorganisms: a cheese farm in western New Jersey has cultivated a new form of cheese with local mold; a brewery in Brooklyn is harvesting yeasts that blow in from the west.

Clifford Beshers said...

The warm rinse is important in other situations as well. Spinach will relax in warm water, allowing the crinkles that hold sand to open. Rinse again in cold water to spruce the spinach right up again.

TheChieftess said...

Great spinach tip Clifford!!! And I love the sourdough starter explanation...I've heard of the Alaskan sourdough starters...of course they sell them in the tourist shops...though I won't vouch for the validity!!!

Petrea said...

Who doesn't relax in a warm bath? Though I hadn't thought of it for spinach.

Gina said...

I think that I love having breakfast/brunch with friends even more than throwing a dinner party.

I just planted seven blueberry bushes in my backyard and am hoping for a blueberry bonanza. I don't think you can ever have too many of them.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

You can grow blueberries in So Cal?

Petrea said...

I don't know if I can, PA, but Gina can, and I'm going to try.

altadenahiker said...

This would not have been my first stop when in search of a kitchen tip, but that just shows how much I know.

Irina said...

I love this text.
Felt some tension in the beginning))).

Birdman said...

I think it's my favorite berry, nipping out the strawberry... at least in pies!

Ms M said...

Excellent tips on blueberries and spinach. I will file those away (hopefully remember where, when I need them).
And wonderful photo, too. Now I want some blueberries...

maria said...

I bought a blueberry year and had a good little crop (6 berries) this year it looks like I will have a lot more. when you buy a blueberry plant, you need to by another of another type (rasberry, boysenberry, blackberry) so that they can cross pollenate - who knew. if you will be freezing them, put them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, then bag them. you just made me feel healthy just by looking at your photo! bien fait!

Bellis said...

Blueberry bushes that fruit in Pasadena are on sale at the Victory Park Farmer's Market at the moment. I'm tempted to buy a bush or two, though American blueberries don't taste anywhere near as good as the small, wild bilberries that ripen in late summer on heathland in northern Europe. This brings back happy memories of eating vast amounts of them, stewed, with homemade potato pancakes. Purple lips, tongues and teeth!

Michael Coppess said...

We tried and failed at growing blueberries. I know people who have had success putting them in pots.

Petrea said...

Maybe I'll get blueberries and raspberries for my garden. Maybe. Geez, I'm all ambitious. I brought an ultra-dwarf Santa Rosa Plum tree on sale today. Poor thing looks a little scraggly but I'm hopeful.

Susan Campisi said...

Your first kitchen tip was very popular, Petrea. Or maybe people just love blueberries. I know I do. Those look yummy.

Gina said...

Re. growing blueberries in southern California. I have four varities that I got at Armstrong. The keys to success are
1) Not planting in blazing full sun (gets too hot) - some dappled afternoon shade is best.
2) Acid soil.
3) Consistent watering.
4) Planting more than one variety for lots of good blueberry cross-pollination.

Now is a great time of year to plant them!

As an aside, if you really want easy berries for southern California try thornless blackberries - mini grow like weeds.

Dina said...

Your enticing photo makes me miss blueberries so much.

Warm water, eh? Thanks.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Gina.

Dina, isn't your climate somewhat like ours? I wonder if you could grow them.

Su_Tune said...

heh, we have berries of all sorts growing wild up here in northern Oregon...which I love...BUT miss the orange, lemon, and avocado trees we had in our back yard in Pasadena! Anyway, every summer I love picking baskets of blueberries and making pies!

Petrea said...

Oregon berries vs. California citrus. It's a tough call. It's going to have to come down to something else, like the weather.