Hands down one of my favorite things about summertime in the Northstate is the abundance of fresh, luscious, tantalizing fruit. How lucky are we!!!? How well I remember picking wild blueberries as a child in New England, and the delectable pies that emerged from Mom’s oven…IF we exercised enough self restraint during the picking!
In the foothills east of Chico, on Doe Mill Ridge, is Sierra Cascade Blueberry Farm, owned and operated by my buddies Armen and John. Not only do they grow the best blueberries I’ve ever tasted, but they are devoted stewards of the land and local waterways, AND they are some of the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet.
Their family-owned-and-operated farm has been certified organic since 1993–one of the first to be certified in California.
Needless to say, John and Armen are super busy at this time of year. But that doesn’t stop them from playing a major role in River Partners, the non-profit organization that works to restore riparian habitat on some of California’s rivers. (Check out the info for the upcoming Sacramento River Paddle and Nature Tour…and if you like the idea of keeping Northern California’s waterways alive and thriving, become a River Partners member; you’ll feel good about it.)
My favorite way to eat blueberries is just as they are, plump and fresh, with a dab of vanilla yogurt. But I make sure to buy extra when they’re in season to freeze for muffins and breakfast smoothies the rest of the year.
Here are a couple of recipes for pie and bread from the Sierra Cascade web site. A web site called AllRecipes.com has a recipe for Blueberry Cream Muffins that looks absolutely divine (let me know the results if you try it). And here are some tips on freezing and preserving the magical morsels.
JoOn now runs a n-on-profit organization that restores riparian habitat on many rivers in California