Foodie that I am, I like nothing better in the summer than going berry-picking! And August is prime time for picking blueberries in Michigan. Those luscious little berries are a burst of sweet, juicy flavor and so good for you! I like to freeze the berries to bring a little taste of summer to the winter months by making fresh blueberry muffins on a cold January morning or a blueberry pie for dessert, served steaming hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Blueberries are so popular, there is a festival held in their honor right here in Genesee County – the Montrose Blueberry Festival which runs this year from August 17-19. This annual small-town event, which is in its 47th year, offers many fun activities including a car show, softball tournaments, Royal Tea Party, a teen dance, and Craft Beer and Wine Tasting. You can also enjoy an entertainment tent, blueberry store, arts & crafts, a flea market, food booths, carnival rides and a Shriner’s Pig Roast. The blueberry pie-eating contest and all-you-can-eat blueberry pancake breakfast are annual favorites.
As I headed up to Bay City to visit my daughter and grandkids recently, I went with the idea of cooking a Michigan summer feast (which definitely would include some blueberries). My first stop was at Eichelberg Farm in Linden to pick up a couple dozen ears of the most delicious sweet corn I’ve ever tasted, and the first of season’s juicy, homegrown tomatoes. I didn’t have time to go berry-picking, so I stopped at Rich’s Farm Market in Flint to get some Michigan blues that had just arrived that day. What I was looking forward to most was baking a fresh and delicious blueberry pie for the grandkids.
My grandson, Mack, was my sous chef (as he often is) and as I rolled out the pie crust, he carefully measured the sugar, flour and cinnamon into the berries and mixed up the filling. When he was done, I took half a lemon and squeezed the fresh juice over the filling. Once in the oven, the house quickly filled with the aroma of the bubbling pie, as the juices started to seep out and the crust began to brown. I can tell you one thing, that pie was gone in about 60 seconds.
I still plan to go berry-picking and there are a few places in Genesee County where you can pick your own, such Coyner’s Blueberries in Flushing and Montrose Orchards. If you want to drive a little bit further, you can pick your own at Hazen’s Farm in Howell, Dexter Blueberry Farm in Dexter, or Middleton Berry Farm in Ortonville. If you’re feeling lazy, there are many area farm markets that sell Michigan blues.
Blueberries are not only delicious, they are good for you – an antioxidant superfood packed with phytoflavinoids. Blueberries are also anti-inflammatory, high in potassium and vitamin C and can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. So, don’t feel too bad when you reach for that second slice of blueberry pie. Add a scoop of ice cream on top, sit outside in the sunshine and savor one of nature’s most delicious summer treats!