South Mississippi turns blue this month with a sprinkling of black, purple and red for extra sweetness.
Yes, blueberries have ripened, and the eating is sweet and healthy. On the Coast, there is also a smattering of blackberries, dewberries and strawberries. For the blackberries and dewberries, knowing someone with bushes or land near a ditch or creek is the best bet for finding these berries. Farmers’ markets often have pints of blackberries or dewberries. Blackberries make the best berry dumplings.
When I grew up, we had blackberry bushes near the gulley that ran behind our property. It was good picking. My grandmother always knew the best spots, and she and my grandpa made it a fun outing.
Blueberries are easier to find. South Mississippi has some good U-pick blueberry farms with trees that are loaded. Lilly and I went to Live Oaks Farm in Pass Christian and ended up with a gallon of berries. We would have gotten more except we were hot, and Lilly would rather play with farm cats and horses than pick berries.
We started home with a gallon but ended up with less because both Lilly and I couldn’t quit eating the sweet fruit.
I like to stock up on blueberries and freeze a large portion of what we pick to use throughout the year. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and can be used in desserts, salads, jams or jellies and sauces. A peanut butter, banana and blueberry smoothie is an awesome way to start the day.
Be sure to call ahead and make sure farms are open. Here are some blueberry farms in South Mississippi:
Paradise Farm Blueberry U-pick, 12861 Paradise Lane; 228-238-8383; https://paradisefarmbiloxi.business.site/
Blueberry Acres Farm, 5307 Hwy. 43N; 601-798-1719
Blueberry Bluephoria, 12147 Road 267; 601-749-0136; www.toftfarms.com/
Double S Farms, 20295 Miss. 53; 228-234-9845
Dannemann Farm, Blueberry Hill Road; 228-255-5979; www.dannemanns.net/
Pearl River Blues Berry Farm, Curt Rester Road; 601-796-9788; www.pearlriverblues.com/
Glenn Young Blueberries, 508 Williams Ave.; 228-826-9479
Live Oaks Farm, 23229 East Dubuisson Road; 228-263-1200; owner: 832-489-4254; http://www.live-oaks.com/
Fuller Farm, John Amacker Road; 601-795-4671
Thornhill Farms, Restertown Road; 985-641-5010; www.thornhillblueberryfarm.com/
Dabbs Farm, School Road; 228-669-0029; www.dabbsfarm.com./blueberries.php
Blueberry Heaven, 16705 Old Kelly Road; 228-826-5321; blueberryheaven.net
Spring Lake Berry Farm, Spring Lake Drive; 228-826-4682; email@example.com/
Now for the recipes.
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
2 cups blueberries
Cream butter; add egg and sugar. Mix in vanilla and flour. Use a bit of the flour over the blueberries. Add blueberries to the batter and bake in greased casserole at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Serve with a hot lemon sauce.
— Recipe by Brytte Heffner, North Carolina
BLUEBERRY SHORTBREAD CHEESECAKE
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from 1 lemon
1 quart blueberries
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process until mixture begins to form small lumps; press into the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce oven’s heat to 325 degrees.
Beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl until soft and creamy. Stir in the eggs one at a time, until smooth. Gradually stir in the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Pour the mixture over the crust.
Bake until firm to the touch, 45 to 55 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping by combining the blueberries, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan over medium heat; cook until thickened. Allow mixture to cool.
Pour the cooled blueberry mixture over top of the cream cheese layer. Chill assembled cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.
BLUEBERRY CHICKEN CHOPPED SALAD
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries
1 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans
2/3 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup blue cheese (or any soft cheese)
Dijon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Season chicken breasts on both sides generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside.
Transfer chicken breasts to a separate plate and let rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Then chop into small, bite-sized pieces.
Add the chicken to a large bowl with the lettuce, blueberries, pecans, red onion, blue cheese, and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together.
— From U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council