Much like the rest of us, South Sound blueberries dislike a cold summer.
A chilly June and early July will delay some South Sound blueberry crops.
“Last year, I started picking on July 20 and it was about a 10-day season for me,” said Richard Linbo, who owns Puyallup’s Linbo Blueberry Farm.
This year? He’s predicting picking won’t start at his farm until at least July 28.
“Late” is the same forecast Tom Carr gave for his state-certified organic blueberry farm in Olympia.
“We won’t be picking until the very end of July or early August,” he said. “It’s definitely later than usual, but it’s looking really good right now. They’re at the early stages of ripening. Primarily, it’s the weather (causing the delay). I have lots of water in my field right now. It’s unusual for this time of year. It’s not necessarily the moisture, but the cold weather that delayed the ripening.”
The cold start to summer didn’t delay all crops. A few blueberry farms that grow early-ripening crops already are selling berries at some farm stands, farmers markets and stores. Sidhu Farms in the Orting Valley has ripe berries now, and will continue picking through September.
Local chefs are joining the fresh blueberry bandwagon as the berries arrive at market.
Lisa Owen, chef-owner of The Mark in Olympia, serves a lemon-blueberry cake that she says is delicious for “a breakfast treat or dessert for a summer dinner.”
Matt Stickle, executive chef at The Bite at Hotel Murano, showcases the seasonal blueberry in a vinaigrette sweetened with honey and flavored with tangy mustard and cider vinegar.
William Mueller, who co-owns Babblin’ Babs in Tacoma’s Proctor district with his wife, Shannon, turns his favorite blueberries into a barbecue sauce.
Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270
Yield: Makes 1 quart
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1/2 cup honey
2 cups canola/olive oil blend
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 pint fresh blueberries
Blend first 5 ingredients together until smooth. Slowly add oil to emulsify. Add salt and pepper and blueberries and blend smooth.
Serve with mixed greens, seared scallops, crispy bacon and garnish with fresh blueberries and lemon zest.
Source: Matt Stickle, Executive Chef, Bite Restaurant at Hotel Murano
Lemon Blueberry Cake
For the glaze:
1 cup raw sugar
2 cups pureed blueberries
Lemon zest from one lemon
1 cup whole blueberries (reserve for assembly)
For the cake:
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
11/2 cups raw sugar
1/2 cup soy oil
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half and half or milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest from 2 lemons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk, beat together the eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Gradually beat in the oil.
Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, and then the milk. Beat until smooth, and then mix in the lemon juice, zest.
Prepare two 8-inch round pans with butter, flour then parchment paper on bottom. Pour the batter into the pans, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake tests done.
Let cool, then with sharp knife carefully trim top of cakes flat.
For the glaze: Simmer at low heat, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup raw sugar, lemon zest and 2 cups pureed blueberries for approximately 2 hours or until thickens, stirring occasionally. Then cool and place in refrigerator. Save a cup for finishing cake.
To assemble: Brush or drizzle with thickened blueberry glazing on first layer. Then add loose single layer of fresh blueberries. Place second layer of cake on the first layer, then drizzle the glaze generously over the layer. Add remaining blueberries and lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving
Source: Lisa Owen, chef and owner of the Mark in Olympia
Blueberry Barbecue Sauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper seeded (for hotter, keep the seeds)
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato puree or ketchup
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (good quality)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (organic jalapeno sauce preferred)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Season with pepper to taste
In saucepan heat oil, add onions, garlic, and peppers; cook until wilted. Add vinegar, brown sugar, tomato puree or ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce and bring to a simmer. Now add blueberries, keeping over a simmering heat. Cook until thick and rich.
Purée in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust with pepper if needed. Serve at room temperature or brush on during grilling.
Recommendation: Serve on steak, pork, burgers, chicken, and anything else you would make with barbecue sauce.
Source: Chef William Mueller, co-owner of Babblin’ Babs in Proctor
Where to pick blueberries
Don’t see your favorite farm listed here? E-mail us and we’ll add it to the list. Call 253-597-8270 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black River Blues 17132 Moon Road S.W., Rochester; 360-273-3489; www.blackriverblues.com. U-pick blueberries and farm stand is open now with 22 varieties of blueberries. Closed Sundays.
Carr’s Certified Organic Blueberry Farm: 38441/2 Gull Harbor Road N.E., Olympia; 360-352-3622. This U-pick farm won’t have blueberries until late July or early August. Call ahead.
Spooner Berry Farms: Blueberry sales at the farm, 3327 Yelm Highway, Olympia; Tumwater farm stand in the parking lot of Southgate Ace Hardware, 5203 Capital Blvd.; Aberdeen farm stand across from McDonald’s at 1110 E. Wishkah St.; Shelton farm stand next to Viking Floors at 1826 Olympic Highway N.; Centralia farm stand in Bill & Bea’s Diner parking lot at 1215 Harrison; West Olympia farm stand at 2010 Harrison Ave. N.W.; Yelm farm stand one block east of Safeway. 360-456-4554 and www.spoonerberryfarms.com.
Johnson Berry Farm: Blueberry sales at farm stand at 2908 Wiggins Road S.E., Olympia. 360-493-2350 or www.johnsonberryfarm.com.
Buy berries here
Farmers markets: Auburn on Sundays; Browns Point on Thursdays; Federal Way on Saturdays; Gig Harbor-Kimball Drive on Saturdays; Gig Harbor-Downtown on Wednesdays; Gig Harbor-Key Peninsula on Sundays; Olympia on Thursdays through Sundays; Puyallup on Saturdays and Sundays; Rochester/Grand Mound on Saturdays; Steilacoom on Wednesdays; Tacoma-Broadway on Thursdays; Tacoma-Sixth Avenue on Tuesdays; Tacoma-South Tacoma on Sundays; Tacoma-Proctor on Saturdays; Tenino on Saturdays; Tumwater on Wednesdays; Vashon Island on Saturdays and Wednesdays. For hours and addresses, go to www.thenewstribune.com/soundlife/food
More farms, farmers markets, U-picks, directions and detailed descriptions at www.pugetsoundfresh.org.