There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh-picked summer blueberry: plump and still warm from the sun, with the perfect blend of sweet and tart. In fact, it was a quest for the perfect farm-fresh blueberry – and ultimately, the perfect blueberry compote – that led us to a little farm off the beaten path in New Jersey this week.
Fred + III Blueberry Farm is one of our favorite South Jersey destinations. Fred has been working at the farm since 1949, but he’s as sprightly and quick with a joke as ever. (He told us we probably didn’t want to take his picture because it would “explode the camera.”)
At Fred’s, blueberry season is in full swing now, with plentiful Walcott blueberries and a few Bluecrop berries appearing as well. Want to pick your own? You’ll get a large can with a string to tie around your waist, and then basically the fields are yours. (The current rate for pick-your-own blueberries is $1.50 per pound.)
If you can handle the heat and humidity (which is a stretch for us tender Southern California folk), blueberries are surprisingly fun and easy to pick. They’re generally right there at eye/hand level, and even the littlest kids can easily grab a handful. They tend to ripen in clusters, so sometimes it’s hard to pick just one. And it’s almost always hard to refrain from eating them.
Now even if you don’t happen to make your way to South Jersey, or any other blueberry farm this summer, you’re likely to find reasonably fresh blueberries at your local market. And if your family is like ours, this is the time of year when you start craving blueberries at every meal.
To get your day started off right, we thought we’d share this Blueberry Compote. It’s a quick and versatile sauce that you can use to top off your pancakes, French toast, or ice cream. (True story: We’ve been known to put it on a sandwich too – Think crusty French bread, fresh-sliced turkey, arugula, goat cheese, and a thin layer of blueberry compote. Or heck, just spread it on bread.)
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 T. lemon juice
- Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the sauce reaches your desired consistency (the longer it simmers, the more it will reduce). Watch carefully to make sure the water does not all evaporate; add more water if needed.