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Monday, 15 August 2011

Blueberry Bounty

Blueberries are delicious, and home grown ones taste even better than those from the shops. They're also really easy to grow. They are originally bog plants that like an acid soil, so we grow them here in containers that stand in trays kept permanently topped up with  rainwater. A magnificent harvest was promised from our eight bushes earlier this year. I covered them with a bird-proof net early on in the season, but sadly the local squirrels discovered a taste for them - green! They tore through the nets, leaving holes that blackbirds were quick to take advantage. Much pegging and pinning later, I think the remaining berries are safe. We've been picking the odd handful to go on cereals for a week or two, but now the bulk of remaining berries are ripe and ready. I picked over three pounds yesterday, and made the first blueberry tart of the season. Here's the recipe:

For The Pastry:
250g flour
175g butter
20g caster sugar
1 egg
half tablespoon cold water.

Rub the butter into the flour and stir in the sugar, or blitz in a food processor. Add the egg and water combining it all into a soft dough. Chill in a fridge for 40 mins.
Butter and flour a 25cm loose-based flan tin. Roll out the pastry to more than fit the tin - you don't want to have to stretch the pastry. Hint: rolling it out between two sheets of greaseproof paper makes a tricky job slightly easier and cleaner! Chill the unbaked pastry case for another 20 minutes.

For the Filling:
500g blueberries, washed and dried.
2 eggs
125g caster sugar + extra for dusting
175ml cream
25g flour
1 desertspoonful of creme de cassis

Put the berries into the pastry case. Mix together the eggs, sugar, cream. flour and cassis well and pour over the fruit. Sprinkle over a little more caster sugar and bake at 200 degrees c/gas mark 6 for about 35 minutes. This is best served chilled.

Once I've picked all the berries, I cut out one or two of the oldest branches then give them a good top dressing of home made compost. Blueberries also put on a brilliant show of fiery autumn colours. Then next year their pretty white flowers are a magnet for our bees. All we have to do is keep them constantly moist and the blueberries do the rest. Taken all round, they're  really good value plants.