Newbies would do well to start with blueberries

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

Those little blue dynamos are back and the picking is easy!

Blueberry season is in full swing here in York County. If you’ve never done the pick-your-own thing, start with blueberries.

There are no thorns, bees or poison ivy to deal with. The blueberry bushes are 4 to 5 feet tall, so no bending is involved. The berries practically fall into your bucket. Picking a year’s supply for a family should take less than an hour.

One of my favorite places to pick is Blueberry Hill. Owner Rick Miller said they have 19 different varieties and 6,600 plants. My personal favorite is a variety called Elliot. It is a little more tart than others, but I like the full blueberry flavor better in pies and jams. Check out Blueberry Hill’s Facebook page or call 717-417-3828 for hours and availability.

Blueberries freeze well for year-round use. First, wash them and drain well. You might want to put them on a towel to remove extra moisture. Then place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can put them in bags or containers in sizes that are con­venient for your needs. Frozen blueberries can be used interchangeably with fresh in any recipe.

There are many blueberry recipes around this time of year, but blueberry muffins are a classic. Eat them hot out of the oven or freeze them for later. Once popped in a microwave for 30 seconds, they are as good as fresh.

The secret to successful muffins is to have a light hand. Once the dry and wet ingredients are just combined, stop mixing.

Another consideration is whether to use baking cups or not. The King Arthur Flour website suggests you get a more even rise when using baking cups, thus avoiding “pointy” tops. Baking cups certainly make cleanup easier.

Before you begin, have the following ingredients at room temperature.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups white unbleached flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

11/2 cups blueberries

Line the muffin tin with paper baking cups. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat together the eggs, milk, sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix lightly until all the dry ingredients are wet. Be careful not to overmix, as the muffins will be tough.

Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the mixture into the 12 muffin cups. Place the muffin tin in the center of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffin tops are golden.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.