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Food of the Month:
Frozen Blueberry Chatter
Overnight Baked Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal
Food of the Month: Frozen Fruit
Frozen Blueberry Chatter
By Joanne Johnsen, AMG
The Michigan Farm/School calendar has designated March as Frozen Fruit Month, and the one fruit that can always be found in my freezer is blueberries, preferably Michigan blueberries from Buchan’s Blueberry Hill in Traverse City.
Blueberries are so easy to freeze—no peeling, hulling, blanching, or slicing. Just do a quick rinse off in a colander. Pick out any stems or damaged berries. Place them in a single layer on paper toweling and allow them to dry off before placing them in freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. I like to measure mine out in 1 cup increments, place the cup amount in a small sealable sandwich bag, and then place the smaller bags into a larger gallon freezer bag. That way they are recipe ready and easy to find in the freezer.
When you are mixing up a batch of blueberry pancakes or muffins, simply add them to the mix. No need to defrost. Yogurt parfaits or berry smoothies are another popular use for these frozen gems. The good news is blueberries can be kept in your freezer for up to 10 months.
Some blueberry facts:
- 1 Cup of blueberries = 80 Calories; 3.6 Grams of Fiber; 25% Daily Vitamin C
- Blueberries are native to North America, and Native Americans used them for medicinal purposes and as a natural flavoring.
- In 1893, Elizabeth White, the daughter of a New Jersey cranberry grower, saw great potential in domesticating wild blueberries. In 1911, she teamed up with Frederick Coville, a USDA botanist, and they began identifying wild blueberry varieties and crossbreeding them. In 1916, White and Coville sold the first commercial crop of blueberries to delighted customers in Whitesbog, NJ. Thank you Betty and Fred!!
- In 2011, First Lady, Michelle Obama, planted blueberries in the White House kitchen garden.
For more interesting blueberry facts and blueberry recipes, please visit: https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/
Course Breakfast Cook Time 35 minutes Author Emma Chapman
- 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries
- (I add a couple shakes of cinnamon to the batter.)
- 1/4 cup cold butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In a smaller bowl, stir together the wet ingredients: milk, egg, melted and cooled butter, and vanilla extract.
- Combine the wet ingredients with the dry in the large bowl, stir to combine. Then stir in the blueberries.
- Add this mixture to a pie pan, cover and store overnight in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl, cut together the crumb topping ingredients. The mixture will be crumbly, like small peas you can press together. Store overnight (or you can make this in the morning, either way).
- Top the oatmeal with the crumb topping, then bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. If the crumb topping doesn’t look golden brown and slightly crispy, you can set under the broiler for a minute or two.
Planning for Planting
By Shari Froelich, Extension Master Gardener Trainee
I’m not a planner by nature and have often flown by the seat of my pants in anything that required planning. Since I’ve not done too well in this area in the past, I am using the adult learning principles of “see one, do one, teach one” but bypassing the do one, and jumping right in to teach one. I figured it was early enough this year to do and teach at the same time.
Planning starts out by deciding on the garden location, maximizing the amount of sunlight available. It is important to start off by having a soil sample completed by MSU to determine soil needs. Ideal locations are where the soil is loose, rich, level and well drained. It is recommended that you do not choose low areas where water stands, or the soil remains wet and most plants will not grow well in poorly drained areas. Most plants need sunlight to grow well. Planting near buildings, trees or shrubs that will shade the garden is not advised. Most plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Planting anything under branches of large trees or near shrubs will rob food and water from the plant. Ideal situations are to plant the garden area near a water supply if possible. Water is needed especially during long dry periods or when planting seeds directly into the soil.
Making the garden too large is one of the most common mistakes of enthusiastic, first time gardeners. A garden that is too large will be more work than can be successfully managed by one individual. Things to consider are available room from containers to having plenty of ground space. Available time is also a key factor. Determine if you only have time for gardening after work or school or only on weekends as there will not be enough time for a larger garden. With vegetable gardening, it is important to include family size as this will help determine total size and if others in the family will be assisting. Knowing the reason for your gardening as purely recreational or having a bigger garden for canning/freezing to selling produce/plants/flowers will also determine size. Determine types of plants to be grown as some plants take up a lot of space. Various resources will assist on determining the spacing of plants.
Deciding What to Grow
Available space is as a big decision as where to locate the garden. Vining plants require different space requirements than non-vining plants. Expected production from the crop, maturing rates and length of time vegetables/flowers bear over the duration of the season are important considerations. Cost factors of seeds versus buying pre-started plants are important aspects to consider. The variety of plant types of GMO, hybrids, and organic sources can impact costs. Growing anything that the family prefers versus what a sellable market needs are also considerations.
Location of the Garden
Arranging plants in a way that makes the most use of space and light is key. Growing taller plants on the north side of your garden where they won’t shade shorter plants is important. Grouping plants according to maturity will also be beneficial as it makes it easier to replant after removing an early crop. Plant vine crops near a fence or trellis if possible. Making a drawing on graft paper to show the location and spacing of plants in the garden is helpful.
Timing of Planting
A key component of timing is knowing your first and last frost dates. One of the simplest is to contact a local nursery, a farmer or using online tools such as 4-25 Frost free date table REBECCA.pdf (msu.edu); Michigan Interactive Average Last Frost Date Map (plantmaps.com)
Vegetable plants are generally divided into two groups—warm season and cool season varieties. Flower plants also include a spring season in most areas by planting many spring bulbs in the fall in most of northwestern Michigan. Cool season vegetable crops can stand lower temperatures; plant them before the soil warms in the spring. They can also be planted again in late summer to harvest after the first frost in the fall.
How Much to Plant
Some plants produce more than others, and it is important to know these factors prior to planting. Vegetables will depend on the use such as family size, selling at Farmer’s Market, etc. Another consideration is expected production and whether or not freezing or canning will be done. Key advice is not to plant too much as over-planting is wasteful and may take more work than what you have to offer. If even after good planning you end up with too much, most friends, family and food pantries welcome any extras you have.
Flower planting will also depend on whether the purpose is for personal pleasure or for income.
Sources for seed calculators can be found at Seed Quantity Calculator | Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com); Seed Planting Calculator – Grow Organic
MGANM Garden Book Club Meeting Update
By Barbara Fasulo-Emmott, AMG, Book Club Chair
Our first MGANM book club met in January in a zoom format. We had 10 participants who read and discussed Paige Dickey’s book “Uprooted.” We had a delightful discussion from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the book which spurred many questions about flowering plants, soil science, cold frames, and landscaping. We agreed to limit our membership to the current number of participants, increasing the number of participants as people left the book club.
Our February book choice is “Natures Best Hope” by Douglas W. Tallamy