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Posts tagged ‘berries’

Blueberry Loaf Cake

I’ve had a bit of a blueberry obsession lately. I’ve been looking for blueberry muffin recipes to inspire me, going blueberry picking, writing about blueberry jam, and all around wanting to make the most out of the blueberry season. It shouldn’t be that surprising then that I created a recipe for a blueberry loaf cake.

Except, I was out of blueberries. But I was not out of blueberry jam! What made it even better was that this is the Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Jam which has whole blueberries in it. Delicious, gorgeous, and a perfect substitute for fresh blueberries.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup blueberry jam OR 1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. With an electric mixer combine oil and sugar. Beat in eggs and both extracts. Beat in milk.

3. Combine flour and baking powder. Beat into wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries/blueberry jam.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, tenting the cake with aluminum foil after 40 minutes.

This cake is moist and full of blueberry flavor. It can be eaten as breakfast, snack, or a less sweet dessert. Enjoy and let me know how you use blueberries in your summer baking.

 

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Product Placement: Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest

Why does it seem that if you want to buy natural you have to buy brands that are expensive or brands no one has heard of before? It’s unfortunate that most brand name products are stuffed with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals and dyes.

But there’s a secret to most of these big name products: they produce natural versions of their commercial products. Both Jif and Skippy have natural peanut butters and Smucker’s has Orchard’s Finest berry preserves.

  

Now, I’ve only tried the blueberry (far right of the photo) but there are whole blueberries in the jam. It’s smooth and sweet and whole blueberries are abundant. When my family ran out of blueberries from Jones Family Farm and I wanted to make blueberry loaf cake, I used a half cup of Smucker’s jam and my blueberry cake is studded with blueberries.

Here comes the hard part though, it’s not perfect. Though it pains me to admit it, Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves are not in fact perfect. The ingredients (though all readable and common) are: BLUEBERRIES, SUGAR, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID. It would be preferred if there was no sugar added, but this seems rather minor. There are 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories. For more information on the nutrition label visit: http://www.smucker.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupId=1&categoryId=338&flavorId=755

As usual, unfortunately, the natural jams are more expensive than the standard ones. A twelve oz jar is $3.29 for the natural jam and a 12 oz jar is $2.99 for their commercial products. This is, thankfully, not a huge cost difference. Look for the natural Smucker’s jams next time you shop and let me know what you think!

Apparently, Smucker’s also has an organic line. I’ll be looking into this soon and I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

Berry Picking Adventures Part II

When I went berry picking with my mother last month for strawberries it was rather late in the season, we had to do a bit of digging to find strawberries that weren’t dead on the bush or in the dirt. The strawberries were still delicious, but it was difficult to find ones that would last a long time once we got them home.

So the same farm we went to for strawberries has blueberry picking July into August. Jones Family Farm is truly amazing. The blueberry bushes are farther back on the farm and so we got to take a much longer trip on the Berry Ferry and see the massive acreage that is Jones Family Farm. It’s amazing. The farm has pumpkin picking in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter and strawberries then blueberries in the summer.

  

The blueberry bushes stretched out for miles and this time we came early in the season. Not all the berries were ripe yet we were that early. When my mom and I came off the Berry Ferry to be told which bushes we could pick from I saw people coming back from picking and had to do a double take. The blueberries could not look that perfect. It just wasn’t possible.

Yet they did. The blueberries felt like they were covered in a soft fuzz of velvet. They were so beautiful and plump and delicious. I cannot recommend getting to a farm to pick your own berries enough. I have never tasted better berries and for about 3 lbs of berries my mom and I paid a little over $6. The berries have been lasting us for the past two weeks, just as delicious and just as fresh.

I’ve been making tons of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and I’m in the process of perfecting a blueberry muffin recipe. If anyone has any other ideas on what to do with fresh blueberries I would love to hear from you!

 

Berry Picking Adventures

Raspberry bushes used to grow in my backyard. They were cuttings from plants which grew at my grandparents’ house, though I know nothing about gardening, so don’t ask me to go into details about the bush itself. All I know is that when I was young my whole family would go into our backyard and pick raspberries, wash them off in the kitchen sink and then eat them right then and there. I was too young to think about it then, but now I wonder why we never did anything exciting with the berries that we picked. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of berries on the bush, but we could have made jam, or made a pie if we were to supplement in some other berries or fruits, or put them into oatmeal, or been creative at all.

It’s too late now though, the man who mowed our grass ripped up the whole bush believing it to be a weed. That was over 15 years ago. Still, for years he promised he would replace it, but we no longer use his services and he couldn’t have gotten us a new raspberry bush if he tried (and I don’t think he did). It just wasn’t going to happen; it would be too expensive.

Something wound up happening to kill off the raspberry bushes in my grandparents’ yard too, but don’t ask me what (my gardening ignorance has not dissipated). Now if my family wants to buy berries, of any kind really, we need to pay the store prices or buy frozen. This becomes an even bigger problem because my family keeps an organic home and so everything is more expensive and has to actually be in season. Otherwise we don’t buy it. Or we buy frozen. You can imagine my joy…

But we were saved by Jones’ Family Farm when they offered days to come pick strawberries and my mom and I accepted. The acreage of the farm was immense, and maybe I’m just naive having lived in a suburb my entire life, but I was very impressed that there was this much land barely 15 minutes from my house.

Things got even better when we got to ride a tractor to the berry fields: we rode the Berry Ferry!

It’s corny and it’s hokey, but that’s why I love it. My mom and I were given a few rows to pick from because we were picking rather late in the season. With our cartons at the ready we got down and picked the best berries I have ever eaten. It was a bit difficult to find ones which were large and not squashed, or ones which were not buried in the dirt, but when we found good ones we found good ones. We picked a little over 3 lbs of strawberries and paid a little over $8.

Now we just need to get creative and come up with recipes to put the strawberries into. After years of not having the option to pick our own berries I will not let this opportunity go to waste. If you have any of your favorite strawberry recipes on hand please let me know. I’m willing to try anything just to be able to get creative. Let me know! Next week we’ll go back to pick blueberries.

Thanks and happy picking to anyone else hunting in the berry market.