Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blueberries - The Super Fruit Perfect for Summertime

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Blueberries not only provide scrumptious, antioxidant-rich berries, but blueberry shrubs also add year-round interest to the landscape. This summer fruit is easy to grow and requires minimum care in the garden. To help homeowners grow and care for their own blueberries, the garden experts at Pike Nurseries offer these tips:

  • Even though blueberries produce their fruit in the summer months, it is not too late to begin planting them now. Plant yours in a spot that receives full sunlight, either in the garden or in a large pot.

  • To thrive, blueberries need a nutrient-rich soil with good drainage. If planting in the garden, mix the native soil with Pike Planting Mix at a 50/50 ratio. This helps break up the hard Georgia red clay and allows for better drainage.

  • To protect your berries from birds, cover your blueberry shrub with bird netting as soon as the berries start to appear.

  • Blueberries come in many different varieties. A few of the best options for Georgia gardeners are O’Neal blueberries, Burgundy Wild Lowbush blueberries, Top Hat blueberries and Patriot Early Season blueberries. All of these varieties are carried at Pike Nurseries.

  • The easiest way to pick your berries is to hold a bucket underneath a cluster in one hand, and gently pull bunches at a time with the other hand. The ripe berries will easily fall off the branches, while the berries that aren’t fully ripened will remain attached to the bush.

  • The biggest clue in determining if a berry is ripe is its color. Ripe berries will be plump with a light blue or gray color. If there is still a hint of red in the berry, it isn’t fully ripened yet.

Whether eating them fresh out of the bucket or incorporating them into everyday cooking, gardeners can take full advantage of the fruits of their labor. Below are two delicious recipe ideas that incorporate blueberries, courtesy of Emily Greer, Personal Chef.

Fresh Blueberry Coffee Cake

Cake ingredients:
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cups butter
¾ cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups blueberries

Topping ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup cold butter

Cream butter and sugar in a bowl of stand mixer. When light and fluffy, add egg and mix thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla and blueberries. Pour into greased and floured 9X9 baking dish. For topping, cut butter into dry ingredients with pastry blender or pulse in food processor until small crumbs form. Sprinkle over top of batter and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blueberry-Lemon Compote

Custard ingredients:
1 ½ tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
7 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
Compote ingredients:
1 pint fresh blueberries
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
⅛ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. water



Combine first 4 ingredients in saucepan and heat to just simmering. Cook until berries turn deep purple. Stir together cornstarch and water in a separate bowl to make a slurry. While berries are simmering, slowly add cornstarch mixture while stirring until desired consistency is reached (you may not use all of it). Compote should be like melted jam. Cool completely and chill.


Soften gelatin in 1 Tbsp. cold water in a medium bowl for about 5 minutes. Warm cream and sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes, then stir into bowl with gelatin. Stir in buttermilk, then strain into another bowl. Pour custard among six 8 oz. ramekins and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Serve in ramekins or, to unmold, dip ramekins into a dish of hot water, then flip over onto chilled plate. Garnish with fresh blueberries and lemon zest. Serve with your favorite shortbread cookies!


Ever committed to its customers’ gardening success, Pike Nurseries takes pride in taking the guesswork out of gardening. Offering superior knowledge, quality and selection in a friendly, caring environment, Pike Nurseries has been an Atlanta icon for over 50 years. Founded in 1958 by Pete Pike, its ability to adapt to market conditions and community needs has made it a respected Southern institution. As Atlanta’s oldest garden chain, Pike Nurseries has 16 retail locations in the Atlanta, GA, Greensboro, GA and Charlotte, NC areas and employs the most certified garden experts. Now led by CEO Mike Kunce, Pike Nurseries looks forward to continued growth as it keeps Georgia and North Carolina beautiful, one landscape at a time.

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