Tori Valadez, Carlie Jean and Presley Rogers, enjoying the fruits of their labor … blueberries. Photo by Karen Boughton

Do you remember Gene Wilder’s fantastic movie, “Willie Wonka And the Chocolate Factory?” You may have also seen the Johnny Depp version. But as for me, I’m a traditionalist … I loved Gene Wilder’s version and especially the scene where Violet turns into a blueberry! Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do; she was on to something as blueberries have so many amazing nutritional health benefits. It has the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit and just may boost your immune system and prevent infections. But that isn’t why I got up at 5 a.m. last Saturday to go blueberry picking. I just love the taste of those sweet, little pea-sized gems.

After downing a cup of hot black coffee, I roused three of our grandkids, ages 7, 9 and 11, who just happened to be staying with us last weekend. Still sleepy and a bit grumpy, I loaded them into my car with a brown bag breakfast to go and we headed off to Conroe to Morehead’s Blueberry Farm, 19531 Morehead Rd. (sayblueberry.com). We were well prepared for the trip. Water, check. Bug spray, check. Sunscreen, check, and of course sunglasses and hats. Although it was barely sunrise when we arrived, we were definitely not the first family there. There were close to 200 cars already parked and families pulling wagons and kids as they headed toward row after row of blueberry bushes bursting with those beautiful, sweet blue pearls of deliciousness.

We stopped at the staging station and each of us picked up a 5-gallon bucket to fill. The attendant directed us to the best area to get started and thank goodness, the sun was finally up because we did not bring flashlights. It only took about one hour for the kids to call it quits and after picking and eating (yes, they are safe to eat right off the bushes and it is allowed), we each had a pretty good-size load in our buckets.

If you want to go, the blueberry harvest season is short – June and July – so don’t procrastinate. However, if you would rather pick up a pint or two at the grocery, do, and then “Please Join My Table” as I share a few sweet blueberry recipes, some mine and one from Mr. Morehead.

With three impatient children wanting a blueberry pie ASAP, this recipe fit the bill.

Morehead’s Easy Blueberry Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 1/2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ready-made pie crust, frozen/unbaked (or I used Pillsbury Pie Crust in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the pie crust. Put one pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan. Pour in berry mixture; lay on the second pie crust, seal and flute edges, and cut slits on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden and pie is bubbly.

Note: I added 1 tablespoon of butter cut into cubes on top of the berry mixture before adding the top crust. I think it adds a touch of richness. Remember to wait for the pie to cool before you cut it.

My Blueberry Zucchini Bread

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
10 ounces blueberries (fresh or frozen)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of two large loaf pans. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust the bottom and sides of each pan with half of the mixture. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Fold in zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Then pour into prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over the top. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. I like to serve one loaf and freeze the other to eat later.

Blueberry or Blackberry Honey Rosemary Jam

1 quart organic berries (1 1/2 pounds) blueberry, blackberry or a mixture of both
2/3 cup organic honey (I use Crete, Boorinakis or Boquete Bees honey)
1/2 lemon, juiced
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary chopped fine (about 1 tablespoon)

DIRECTIONS: In a shallow non-metal pan, place berries and mash. Add the honey, lemon juice and zest; stir to combine. Let it sit about 20 minutes for the honey to dissolve. Place pan on stove over medium heat; add rosemary and bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes, stirring often; the jam will thicken. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Add lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove them from the bath and place on a folded towel to cool. When they are room temperature, check lids to see if they sealed. If they are concave they have sealed; don’t wiggle them. Tighten rings to be snug. Any unsealed jars must be kept in the fridge and used within a couple of weeks.

Note: If you just want refrigerator jam, you don’t have to process them; just pour into the jars, add lids and let them cool, then refrigerate.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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