Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28: National Blueberry Pie Day

Pie with topping ready to be used
Oy.  Another day I feel is out of place!  I think it's a little too early for blueberries - I associate late summer with blueberries.  Still, I decided I'd try to honor today's food observation.  I spent most of the day at an art show, so I thought I'd just stop at the store and buy either a prepared blueberry pie or frozen pie to bake in the oven.  Not surprisingly, since blueberries are not in season right now, there were no ready-to-serve blueberry pies.  There was only one brand of frozen blueberry pie and, well, frozen blueberries were on sale so I decided I'd make my own, even if it might not be cooled off enough to eat today.  I had a ready-to-use deep dish pie crust still in my freezer, so the most time consuming part of pie prep (the crust) was already taken care of.

I didn't want to have to make a pie crust for the top, so I decided to go with this Crumble Berry Pie, using the frozen blueberries.  It's a very easy recipe, the filling is tasty, and it didn't require me to run back to the store to get anything.  I followed the directions - the only deviation I made was waiting longer than 10 minutes after pulling it out of the oven.  I've had other berry pies that ooze out and make a mess if you don't wait until they're completely cooled. 

The pie, fresh from the oven, with a gap where a knife
was used to check the filling.
I couldn't wait for it to completely cool, though - the tempting aroma of blueberry pie kept interrupting my thoughts.  So I cut into the pie while it was still a tad warm and, of course, the filling oozed out. My roommate liked the pie and kept making, "Mmm" sounds as it disappeared from her plate.  I thought the bottom crust was undercooked but my roommate didn't notice, possibly because the filling soaked it.  It's a good recipe, but I'll probably bake the crust before hand and use fresh blueberries next time.

Over at Yankee Magazine, there's a recipe adapted from a historical New England blueberry pie recipe.  Or if Southern is more your style, you can try this New Orleans blueberry pie recipe.

Growing up on the West coast, I think of Oregon and Washington when I think of blueberries.  (Possibly due to all my Seattle friends practically going into throes of ecstasy when blueberry season rolls around and they can pick wild blueberries and gorge themselves.) Surprisingly, in 2003, OR and WA together made up about 20% of the US produced blueberries.  California entered the blueberry market in 2005, and all three West Coast states out-perform the other blueberry states by quite a bit when it comes to blueberries produced per acre.  CA produces 8520 pounds of blueberries per acre, OR 8420 pounds per acre and WA 8000 pounds per acre.  MI produces 6880 pounds per acre, and then you're dropping into the 5000s with NC(5950), In (5610), and ME (5350).  (Admittedly, Maine should get a pass on this as it appears to be the only state that doesn't cultivates blueberries but instead harvests wild blueberries.)  In terms of sheer numbers, though, Michigan has every single other state beat by a landslide.  In 2009, MI produced 99 million pounds of blueberries.  (The number now appears to be over 100 million.)  Yet, because we want blueberries year round, we also import nearly 100 million pounds of blueberries each year, mainly from Chile. According to the USDA, the US leads the world in blueberry production, with Canada and Poland being the other two major suppliers. (Every other country in the world just gets lumped together.)   This makes sense to me, as blueberries are native to North America.

If you have a yard or a patio, blueberries are pretty easy to grow.  Just remember to have two or three plants for pollination purposes.  And be on the look out for birds - my family put up netting around our blueberry bushes because the birds would brazenly snatch the berries, even if we were out there next to the blueberries.
Mmm...pie.  Blueberry pie.

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