the berry latest 3rd quarter 2017

US Highbush Blueberry Council Newsletter




Blueberries were an integral part of the American Indian food supply and as explorers and settlers discovered their surroundings, they learned how the blueberry was used and relied upon by First Nation tribes.  In 1616 French explorer Samuel de Champlain encountered American Indians near Lake Huron gathering blueberries for their winter store. "After drying the berries in the sun, the Indians beat them into a powder and added the powder to parched meal to make a dish called Sautauthig.  We found it to be delicious," he wrote in his diary.  This simple pudding is typically made with dried, crushed blueberries, dried, cracked corn, and water. The use of blueberries in cornmeal mush was embraced by settlers who added milk, butter and sugar, when available. Today the concept of combining blueberries with hot cereal is a popular, satisfying breakfast staple.

The Pilgrims who first arrived at Plymouth Rock on America’s shores in 1620, were met by friendly inhabitants who shared wicker baskets of dried blueberries. History records that these gifts of food, including blueberries, helped the tiny band survive that terrible first winter.



Blueberry Boy Bait

This vintage blueberry-rich coffee cake thought to date back to the 1920's was rumored to help snag a husband. In 1954, the story goes that a Chicago teen submitted her "Blueberry Boy Bait" recipe in the Pillsbury Recipe and Baking contest (precursor to today’s Pillsbury Bake-Off). The contest was held in New York City and hosted by television broadcaster and entertainer Arthur Godfrey. Named in honor of its powers over the opposite sex, "Blueberry Boy Bait" took second place in the youth division.  The secret, sprinkle blueberries generously over the cake batter before baking and let the juicy blueberries work their magic! 




What's Old is new!

-  With the millennials looking for genuine and good -- what can be better than real blueberries.

- Blueberry Guy rummaged through the old files and found these wonderful recipes from the 1960s.

Blueberry Grunt I          Blueberry Grunt II           Steamed Mush          Blueberry Crumble          Blueberry Flummery        

Lots of blueberries, simple ingredients and careful production.


- Tom Payne
USHBC Food Industry Consultant


Family Traditions

Blueberries evoke memories of happy times -- family gatherings, visiting a blueberry farm and picking fresh berries from the bush, good smells in the kitchen as Grandma made blueberry-wonderful treats.  Handwritten recipes, often stained and edges worn from years of use, identify blueberry favorites.  Some recipes were inherited while some were created from scratch.  Other recipes were shared by friends or evolved out of a desire to take advantage of the season’s bounty.  


First nations

North America's Indian tribes, or First Nations, used dried blueberries in stews, soups and meats. Almost 200 years later, in the early 1800's, as the Lewis and Clark expedition explored the Northwest Territory, one of their early meals on the journey was made of venison cured by pounding blueberries into the meat that was then smoke-dried. 


centennial Recipes

Back in the 1900's many popular recipes using blueberries had quirky names – perhaps a reflection on the times.  Here are a few old-time, delicacies.


Blueberry Grunts or Slump

A blueberry cobbler, but called Grunt or Slump in New England. Usually cooked on top of the stove. In some parts of New England, it is a steamed pudding with berries. 



Deep-dish dessert that can be made with a variety of fruit, but extra tasty with blueberries and a little molasses or brown sugar. The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit except the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to come through. Sometimes the crust is on the bottom and the desert is inverted before serving. The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, but it is thought to refer to the deserts plain or dowdy appearance. 


Traditional recipe Concepts Lead to new Products

Today blueberry innovation continues with an array of formats available to the food industry -- frozen, concentrates, dried whole, pieces and powders. Traditional recipes found in Grandma's kitchen... blueberry muffins, blueberry pies, blueberry jams… have expanded with innovative blueberry options, new processing methods, equipment, and trends from whole grain to gluten free.  The one consistent unchanging element is the use of Real Blueberries that make products especially good while carrying on blueberry traditions.  Highbush blueberries continue to evolve in exciting ways. 


Highbush Blueberries Tie Together Past and Present

The blueberry is loved universally.  Ask friends about blueberries and it is inevitable to find mention of a favorite family treat -- blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry smoothies, blueberry pies, homemade blueberry jam….  


Americans have valued blueberries as long as they have hunted and gathered for food. Today the use of blueberries has expanded thanks to commercial production, which made the general availability of big, delicious blueberries a reality.


Real Blueberries to market

One hundred years ago, the commercial highbush blueberry industry was born, thanks to the foresight and dedication of farmer, Elizabeth White, and USDA horticulturist, Frederick Coville. This was dawn of blueberry opportunities.  The use and enjoyment of highbush blueberries expanded dramatically thanks to the tenacity and dedication of this pioneering duo, who started the highbush blueberry industry that today spans across the USA in more than 30 States.  


From the Garden State to the World!

The phenomenon began with highbush blueberries from New Jersey’s Pinelands. The first shipment of commercial blueberries was in 1916 and totaled 600 quarts of fruit.  Today, North America (USA, Canada and Mexico) produce close to a billion pounds of blueberries annually.  


Blueberry Buckle or Crumble

This type of blueberry cake is made in a single layer with blueberries added to the batter. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.  


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Published by USHBC- c/o Thomas J. Payne, 865 Woodside Way, San Mateo, CA 94401 Copyright © 2017