Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Most Unusual Blues

Move Over Yogurt – These Wild Blueberry Ideas Give Fruit a Whole New Meaning 

 
“Wild blueberries? I’ll eat them with absolutely anything,” said one dyed-blue-in-the-wool Wild About Health reader. If you agree – and if by everything you mean everything, this is the post for you.

Wild blueberries lovers, these are our halcyon days. In our quest for good health, adding fruits and vegetables to our meals is high priority. Those deeply colored wild blueberries are the go-to food for enhancing our health and disease prevention efforts. They are high in antioxidants, they have a low glycemic index, and they are low in calories. They are also deliciously, complexly sweet and tangy.

As a result of the good news surrounding blueberries, specifically wild (wild offers more concentrated nutrition per berry), there’s a swell of interest in eating the fruit – but not in the traditional way. Wild blueberries are popping up in some unexpected places, and they seem to be a new mainstay in a wide array of foods, drinks, and snacks.

So, move over yogurt, step aside pancakes – we love you, but these new traditions in blues will blow your mind (without blowing your commitment to healthy eating).

7 Unusual Ways to Use Your Blues 

The Blueberry Bagel Debate

A discussion of blueberry uses that are out of the ordinary must start with the Great Blueberry Bagel Debate. Loved or hated, all bagel aficionados have an opinion. On the one hand, this choice of bagel can have a tendency to be blue of hue – for some, disturbingly so. While some blueberries remain discretely nestled in the bread, others turn bagels vastly different from the expected earth tone. Depending on the maker, the blueberry bagel has been accused of being cakey, and toppings like lox and capers can seem like a difficult fit.

But for others, the delicious bagel consistency mixed with the sweetness of blues is pure breakfast food bliss, and cream cheese is the ideal pairing. It’s simply the only bagel choice for some bagel lovers, whether they have a berry affinity or not. Read more about the blueberry bagel debate. Then, go ahead and make your own homemade Blueberry Bagel, if you are so inclined.

(Nutritionally) Potent Potables 

For the occasional imbiber, blueberries are a clever, inventive, multipurpose bar ingredient. Blueberries are no stranger to vodka, for example – they provide a twist to the norm with the added attraction of the “wild” mystique of their origin. Recently, jumping on the blueberry bandwagon, Hangar One announced the release of Maine Wild Blueberry Vodka. It’s a trend that may have its roots with the local Cold River Vodka, an 80-proof vodka made by steeping Wyman’s wild blueberries in alcohol for several days, then filtering it off. They use just a small amount of sugar to achieve this aromatic bouquet and subtle flavor. Try it, along with their recipe ideas, such as Blueberry Melon Martini, for yourself.

Infused vodka shines, but there’s no end to blueberry uses when it comes to cocktails. They are perfect for the holiday season, which necessitates special recipes and lots of color. Wildblueberries.com offers some brand new additions to their drink database that will add a spark to your next gathering. Fortify yourself with an Atlantic Blue with Wild Blueberries or a Lemon Cream and Wild Blueberry Sabayon. You can also rock your guest’s world with Wild Blueberry Woodruff Lime Punch or Wild Blueberry, Elderflower Mint Soda.

Blueberry Vinegar 

If you are looking for a unique way to use your blues, this one not only fits the bill for your kitchen, it also makes a wonderful homemade gift during the holiday season. Making blueberry vinegar is simple, and its taste and versatility pays off in spades. Blueberry Vinegar can be added to many recipes that call for vinegar to add a unique twist of flavor: try it on salads, as marinade, or have it handy to sprinkle on fish or chicken while you cook. It offers big taste at approximately 4 calories per serving, too.

Try making your own Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar, or buy some from a local Maine company if you prefer.

Blueberry Soup 

This slurpable summery treat, which can also be served in winter (buy frozen wild blueberries for easy cooking), fits the bill for savory, elegant and unique. Ladle this Chilled Wild Blueberry Soup from Moveable Feasts into bowls, garnish with sour cream or crème fraîche and top with a mint leaf, and you’ve got a bowl of exquisiteness. Or try this smashing Maine Wild Blueberry Soup which calls for Pinot Noir (weigh it against Moveable Feast’s white wine) and a bit of honey.


Blueberry Swizzle Sticks 

We love this idea for its creativity and for the surprising addition it provides to a drink. Wild blueberries create the basis of this swizzle stick drink stirrer that makes a fruit drink more fabulous. Assembly is simple: place blueberries on a wooden skewer and freeze. Then place them in your guests’ drinks at your next wing-ding. You can find the “recipe” here, where you’ll also find some other unique serving ideas for wild blues. They include out-of-the-ordinary notions such as crushing frozen wild blueberries into vanilla frosting to create a beautiful purple color for your cakes that amplifies the flavor and the fun.

Blueberry Wine

It may not be the first thing you think of when you think of blueberries, but it’s not the last, either. Blueberry wine conjures the crush of flavorful berries and mellow, sweet subtle of flavors that makes perfect sense. If you are adept at making wine, blueberry is a particularly pleasurable option. The wine-making process can take up to several months however, so depending on your schedule, buying it might be easier.

If you are local to Maine, you might try Bartlett Winery in Gouldsboro or Blacksmith’s Winery in Casco. They both make a practice of using native fruits. Also, Maine Mead Works offers HoneyMaker Blueberry Mead made with wild blueberries and wildflower honey from Maine, which is described as having a cherry-rose color and a clean, honey-like aroma with berry notes – berry irresistible.

Hot & Spicy Sauces 

This unusual marriage is made in heaven. The piquant spice of the hot pepper, matched with the sweet tang of blueberries is a taste that thrills the palate and compliments myriad foods. This hot-sweet flavor combination may sound like a one-time treat, but it can quickly become a daily delight. It works with potatoes, sandwiches, chicken, burgers, even scrambled eggs. The Sensitive Pantry has the right idea with this recipe for Blueberry Chili Hot Sauce. You can also start your culinary experimentation with this recipe from Food & Wine, or this simple, sweet Hot Spiced Blueberry Sauce that works for vanilla ice cream as well as for chicken on the barbie.

A similar taste profile can be created with a creatively unusual Blueberry Mustard, something threatening to become a table staple (see evidence here and here for starters), and no wonder. Easy to make and keep on hand for your midnight Dagwood, it’s lovely enough for a homemade Christmas gift for friends. Complete the package with your own jar and label.

Try this simple Spicy Blueberry Mustard recipe from Helium. It calls for just three ingredients: blueberries, mustard and honey…pure condiment delight.

Hungry for more? Endless Simmer will sate your appetite. They have 100 ways to use yours blues – an impressive list that we’ve referred to here before. These ideas are less unusual than they are simply fabulous. Our favorite discovery? Blueberry Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches.

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