Blueberry season is wrapping up in Florida and over the weekend I headed to Spring Valley Farms in opens in a new windowUmatilla (about an hour north of Orlando and near the retirement community, The Villages) to celebrate the end of the growing season with a Blueberry Gleaning. This was a charity u-pick event with proceeds benefiting the opens in a new windowRedlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA).
Stopping to Enjoy the Flowers
My GPS had trouble locating the farm and with every turn I wondered if I was heading to the right place. Once off I-75, I followed country roads lined sporadically with clusters of beautiful pink and purple flowers. The photographer in me wanted to just stop, jump out and snap away but I knew that wasn’t ideal, especially with cars tailing behind. When I made the last turn onto Hwy. 452 (a county road, according to my Garmin) there was a pop of color and convenient parking spot allowing me to snap a few photos then hit the road for the last small stretch of the trip.
It Was a Celebration!
Pulling up to the gleaning celebration, I saw picnic tables, a BBQ smoker, portable restrooms and lots of people carrying white buckets. This was more than just a u-pick event, this was a terrific fundraiser for an important organization for Florida’s agriculture community, all for a $10 donation per a gallon bucket (plus donation for lunch). Families, couples and individuals were enjoying the Florida sunshine and fresh air along with a pulled pork lunch with fresh corn, potatoes and a homemade blueberry dessert. Water and lemonade were available, too, ensuring everyone kept hydrated. These were totally unexpected and nice surprises.
And the Gleaning Began
Once I picked up my bucket I was quickly off into the field to pluck luscious, plump blueberries. Surveying row upon row of bushes, I opted to walk as far as possible from the entrance where I hoped the berries would be plentiful. Turned out this strategy worked. It always seems almost impossible to fill a bucket with little round balls of sweetness but in no time, my bucket was full.
The event was hosted by the Allison and Bocchino Families who are blueberry growers for opens in a new windowWish Farms, a national produce marketer and broker. Their produce is in dozens of opens in a new windowgrocery store chains including Publix, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Winn Dixie.
Charity Beneficiary – Redlands Christian Migrant Association
The Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) was the beneficiary charity. Founded in 1965, RCMA is a statewide organization providing early education and quality childcare for children of migrant farm workers and rural, low-income families. Visit www.rcma.org to learn more about their efforts.
What do to with a Gallon of Blueberries?
I’m not quite sure what to do with all these blueberries. I’m not sure making these flour-less banana blueberry pancakes will make a dent in them. Several years ago I tried this recipe perfect for hot summer days but I don’t have a working ice cream maker. Maybe you do!
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
I modified this recipe from opens in a new windowMyRecipes.com.
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe – One Quart
1 Cup Sugar
4 Ounces Cream Cheese
2 Egg Yolks
1 ½ Cup 2% Milk
½ Cup Half-and-Half
2 Cups Blueberries
2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Water
Combine sugar, cream cheese and egg yolks in a bowl and beat with a mixer on high until smooth.
Combine milk and half-and-half in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Add half of the hot milk mixture to cheese mixture stirring with a whisk ’til creamy.
Return it all to the milk mixture on the stove, cover and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes (or ’til thermometer registers 160 degrees) and stir constantly.
Place pan in an ice-water bath.
Cool completely and stir occasionally (It’ll cool pretty quick).
Combine blueberries, powdered sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring frequently. (Mine took much longer than 10 minutes).
Remove from heat, and cool completely. (I used an ice-water bath.)
Stir blueberry mixture into milk mixture.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm…if you can wait that long. You have my permission to eat out of the ice cream drum.
Do you have a favorite blueberry recipe?