Blueberry Banana Bread
I’ve told you all about my blueberry memories before here on SFTF; hinting at how these little blue orbs are such an important part of my summertime vigil over seasonal produce each year. In short, I adore them.
Now, let me go into the full length version of “why.” As a young man, my grandfather planted a half dozen blueberry bushes beside the old wood shop that sits catty-corner to the rambling farm house in which I grew up. As someone who’s now trained in the ways of horticulture and small fruit production, I marvel that these bushes have not only survived this long in this spot, but have truly flourished. But when I was waist-high to my mom, I only cared about one thing: the big ones!
When the first berries on the bush began hinting of blue, I’d watch them like a hawk and usually ate far more before my mom found out they were ripe than she even realizes today. Eventually the gig was up and she would have my brother and I grab the handles of our little white plastic picking pails to go about the process of harvesting all the blueberries before the birds got them. We’d have to pick every couple of days and the joy of it all quickly wore off on my pre-adolescent persona. What I quickly came to learn was that every season there was one special bush that bore the biggest bluest berries you’d ever see and if I got to that bush first, I’d quickly fill my bucket and declare myself “done!” with this berry picking business long before my brother. My poor mother always got stranded alone – my brother and I no doubt off running through the lawn sprinkler, squealing like banshees – gleaning from another bush we could count on every year to produce the tiniest berries you’d ever see. They were as small or smaller than the wild blueberries I’ve seen in Maine.
Once my mom had corralled my brother and I again and got us dried off, we went inside to wash and sort the berries so she could turn them into delicious jam or pie filling. To do this, we’d get out great big enamel basins, paint chipped with age, and fill them with blueberries and water. After a good swishing, we’d pick up handfuls, spread our palms flat and then use the index finger of the other hand to pass judgment on one blueberry at a time, rolling the good ones into a bowl and the bad ones into the compost bucket. This method, which I still use today, is highly efficient and effective. As you roll the a berry from the clump on your palm and down your fingers, you test to make sure it is firm (squishy is bad) and also see all sides of it to determine if it is blemished or still has the stem on it.
But I digress… this story is really all about THE BIG ONES (like the ones I had to make this incredibly moist and deliciously fruity Blueberry Banana Bread)! So, after a successful day of berry picking and sorting, we’d have fresh blueberries over generous scoops of vanilla ice cream for dessert after dinner (or sometimes just for dinner on real hot days). I would sit there and pick out all the big ones (bear in mind we’d quite often have a gallon of these berries) to put just on my bowl of ice cream. I was a real brat like that. But I swear, besides being leaps faster to pick in large quantities, the big ones taste better. I find small blueberries to be a little tart and a little too seedy. I know most folks will say the little ones are the sweetest ones, but I don’t abide by that. Bigger really is better, believe me.
Blueberry Banana Bread
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 3/4 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 C. margarin, room temperature
2/3 C. sugar
2 eggs, room temp and beaten
3/4 C. mashed bananas (2 large ripe bananas)
3/4 C. fresh blueberries (or thawed if frozen)
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease one large or two small loaf pans. Set aside.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg (I put all mine into a ziplock bag and shake it around).
Cream together margarin and sugar until fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Add a third of the dry ingredient mix, then a third of the bananas. Continue to alternate these two until all is just combined in the batter. Do not overmix. Using a spatual or spoon, fold in the blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for an hour or until golden brown and springy to the touch. To store for more than two days, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in fridge. Delicious warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.