Recently, I was reminded of the Jazz musician, Fats Domino, who wrote the number one hit song, way back in the day, called “Blueberry Hill”. It was a song about finding his “thrill” (love) on top of Blueberry Hill. Well, I actually found my thrill on a “Blueberry Hill”, high up on the northern side of Beech Mountain, fresh summer blueberries! I just love, love, love blueberries. My aunt and uncle live across the road from me and their house sits on a clearing just on top of the hill. On the edge of the clearing they planted about 75 blueberry bushes and, over the years, we have come to call the patch “Blueberry Hill”. Last week, my aunt called me and asked if I would like to pick some blueberries. I quickly accepted her invitation by saying, “Oh, what a thrill! To pick up on Blueberry Hill! I’ll be right there!”
Now, this summer has been unseasonably hot and humid in our mountains as well as most of the country, so, it’s best to choose an ideal time to go picking. The berries are quickly ripening and the best time to pick is the early morning when it is cool. My neighbor, Amy, came along to pick and we set out amongst the bushes.
When you first start picking, it’s just too tempting not to sample the ripe fruit. These bushes are not treated with any pesticides, so it is safe to eat them directly from the limbs. Just be careful to check the berries for tiny worms or sticky webs that might be clinging to them before popping them into your mouth! Now, there’s nothing more sweet and tasty than a plump, sun warmed blueberry picked right off the bush. The berries seem to just burst when you bite into them. Kinda reminds you of warm blueberry cobbler right out of the oven except without the crust!
Blueberries are considered one of nature’s best “Super Foods”. They are high in fiber and also have a high water content, which makes them hydrating for your skin and other cells of the body. They are extremely healthy and have incredibly high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients and flavonoids which can protect your body from cancer, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. It is recommended that you include 1-2 cups of blueberries in your daily food intake to reap the most benefits of this super food.
Just think of all the yummy ways to do just that! Blueberry smoothies, blueberry pancakes, blueberry pie, blueberry oatmeal, blueberry jelly, blueberry hot jam, blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry cake, blueberry yum yum and the list goes on and on. And, of course, they are great on top of cereal, ice cream, or just by themselves!
Amy and I spent a good portion of the morning picking. By the time the sun was getting high in the sky, we had picked about 5 gallons. It was time to come in out of the hot sun. We each took home our share of the berries in the containers we had brought. I put mine in quart sized bags and put them away in the freezer. I will use them throughout the year for all of my yummy blueberry recipes and probably take some out soon to make a “run” of blueberry jelly. Below is an old timey recipe for Blueberry Hot Jam. Put it on pancakes, ice cream, toast, oatmeal, or anything else you want!
- 1 cup crushed blueberries
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tbsp of corn starch mixed with a little cold water to liquefy
- ¼ cup of sugar or more to taste
Heat above ingredients slowly in a small pot. Cook until thickened. Serve hot!
After a morning of berry picking, I came in from the hot temps, and pulled out my travel paints and Khadi hardback journal to enter all of the events of the day. This is a wonderful little watercolor journal with 100 lb. paper that has the perfect texture for any subject. I just love the antique look of the handmade deckled pages, which are ideal for sketching the little bird’s nest I found in a blueberry bush. Instead of a bird’s egg, there was a blueberry in it! With splashes of watercolor to enhance the sketches, the “Blueberry Hill” entry is now part of my summertime memories. I will cherish this fond memory well after the blueberries are gone from the bushes and from my freezer. One cold winter’s day I will pull out the journal and be reminded of how hot it was that day, how the blueberries smelled and tasted, and how much fun Amy and I had picking on “Blueberry Hill”.
Take time out this summer to experience all of God’s wonderful gifts, from the warm sunshine to delicious fresh fruits of the season or maybe just a walk up a hill with a friend. Your stroll may encourage you to create a new painting, it may reveal a story, or even inspire a number one hit song. Who knows?
Have a wonderful Summer Blueberry Pickin’ Day! And get them while they last!