The Winner! Blueberry Banana Bread

For the last few weeks, we have had a contest at Apple Blossom during blueberry season, asking our customers to send us their blueberry recipes. The winner for 2017 is Holly Johnson with her delicious Blueberry Banana Bread. She wins a free 10lb box of blueberries from us! Congratulations!

  • Here’s what you will need…
    – 1 cup all-purpose flour
    – 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    – 1/4 teaspoon salt
    – 1 tablespoon butter
    – 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
    – 2/3 cup sugar
    – 1 cup mashed very ripe banana (2 medium)
    – 1/4 cup milk
    – 2 eggs
    – 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the bottom of a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Mix 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cut 1 tablespoon butter into mixture.
  3. Stir 3/4 cup oats, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 cup mashed bananas, 1/4 cup milk, and 2 eggs into flour mixture until it is all moist. Beat until all ingredients are mixed together thoroughly.
  4. Gently fold blueberries into the batter and pour into loaf pan.
  5. Bake 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the loaf from the sides of a pan. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack.
  6. Cool completely before slicing, and enjoy!

Thanks, Holly, for your tasty recipe!

Christina

Blueberry-Orange Pancake Syrup

Everyone loves syrup! From putting it on pancakes to adding it to coffee or even using it in cooking, everyone seems to be a fan of adding maple syrup to their diets.

Well, I’m here to tell you that blueberry syrup is just as good, if not better in some ways! Here is a simple recipe on how to make Blueberry-Orange Syrup for yourself.

You will need…

  • 5 cups of blueberries, washed and/or frozen (we used frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange (or clementine, cutie, or even lemon!), washed
  1. Peel 3 or 4 strips of orange peel with a peeler or sharp paring knife from the orange. Make
    the strips about 1/2 inch wide, including mostly the orange part and not much white. Juice the orange and set both the peels and juice aside.
  2. Place blueberries and water in a medium-sized pot. If you are using fresh berries, crush the berries. If they are frozen, heat the berries first and then crush as they melt.
  3. Over medium-high heat, bring the berries and water to a boil. Then, lower the temperature to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should start to darken.
  4. Remove pot from heat and ladle berries into a fine sieve over a measuring cup. I used the back of a spoon to press on the solids to get as much juice as I could. You can save the solids for a smoothie.

  5. Return the blueberry juice back to the pot and boil with the orange peels and sugar, stirring periodically. After it boils, simmer it for about 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens a little bit. The colors look so pretty together!

  6. Once the mixture thickens a little, add 2 tablespoons or so of the orange juice and stir to combine. Boil a few more minutes until it is thickened to a thin syrup consistency. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool, also removing the orange peels.
  7. Once the syrup is cool, use a funnel to pour the syrup into clean jars–I used an old Maple Syrup container, but you can also use canning jars. It can store in the refrigerator for up to three months, and in the freezer up to nine!

What a beautiful blueberry color!

Well, I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow–blueberry pancakes with blueberry orange syrup, and I’m going to try this in my coffee!

If you would like to try this recipe, why not get your blueberries from Apple Blossom? We are currently taking orders for fresh Michigan blueberries–just $32.00/10lb box! If you buy 4 or more, they are just $30.00. Order by calling us at 920-993-7277 or emailing us, or you can find us on Facebook @Apple Blossom Orchard and Market.

We will take orders until July 26th, and the berries will be in July 28th-August 1st. We look forward to hearing from you!

Enjoy the blueberry syrup as much as I have!

Christina

Blueberry Crumble Muffins

Hello, blueberry lovers!

Do you have a lot of blueberries left over in your freezer from last year? Frozen blueberries taste great alone, but they also taste fantastic in baked treats! These muffins are moist and fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the top–the perfect combination, in our opinion.

The Finished Product!

For the muffins, you will need…

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup frozen (or fresh) blueberries

For the crumble, you will need…

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed and room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease muffin tin thoroughly.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Place applesauce (or vegetable oil) into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the egg and just enough buttermilk to fill the cup. Stir into the flour mixture. Fold in frozen blueberries.
  4. Equally distribute muffin batter between the muffin cups.
  5. Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup cubed butter, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Cut together with a fork until it resembles small crumbs and sprinkle over the muffins before baking.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or until done.
  7. Let cool and enjoy!

So, empty out your freezer and try out this recipe to let us know what you think!

Order your blueberries now! Each 10lb box is $32.00, and if you buy 4 or more, each box is only $30 each! We are taking orders until Sunday, July 23rd. Order by calling us at 920.993.7277 or sending us an email. Pickup will be from Friday, July 28th to Monday, August 1st. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Christina

Mom’s Patriotic Fruit Salad

Happy Summer! Here at Apple Blossom, we have been busy planting and taking care of all of our fruits in their baby stages in hope of a bountiful harvest in the fall. But why wait for fall! We have berries coming up in the next few weeks, including raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries!

Berries are always a fun way to add brilliant colors on the picnic table. People often turn to flowers or other non-edible decorations, but at the orchard we all agree: edible is better! This fun fruit salad is a family favorite that shows up at almost every party and get-together in the summer.

Here’s what you need…

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Shredded coconut

Preparation is simple. Toss all ingredients together in a large, pretty bowl, sprinkle shredded coconut on top, and serve immediately. If you include strawberries, resist cutting them and the delicious treat will keep all that much longer.

Other ideas for this simple treat include:

  • Add mint sprigs to add a fresh, clean taste and aroma
  • Put any leftovers on top of ice cream for a yummy treat
  • Mash your berries and spread them on toast or crackers
  • Put your berry salad on cereal in the morning–it tastes great with milk!
  • Add other red or blue fruits like strawberries, cherries, or plums to make the colors pop even more
  • If you want to add a little zing, mix a tablespoon of lime juice with a tablespoon of honey and drizzle on top. It’s delightful!

We hope you enjoy this salad this summer! Keep checking your email for information about ordering Michigan blueberries–we will have prices in the beginning of July.

Christina

Bernadette’s Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Thanks to Bernadette Bomber, we now have this excellent Gluten Free blueberry muffin recipe! For her entry, she wins a free 10lb box of blueberries this year!

Here’s how to make your muffins.

You will need:
– 2 Cups Almond Flour
– 2 Eggs
– 2 Egg Whites (to make these vegan, use 1 tsp baking soda and 1/4 cup of applesauce in place of the eggs)
– 1/4 Cup Agave, Maple Syrup, or Stevia
– 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
– 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
– Dash of Salt
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
– 1 Cup Blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Place all ingredient excluding blueberries into your food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Once completely mixed fold in blueberries.
4. Spray muffin tin or mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
5. Evenly scoop batter into muffin tin.
6. Bake for 25 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
8. Enjoy!

Everyone at Apple Blossom loved this recipe, and we hope you do too!

Christina

10 Tasty Tips for Blueberries!

Ever wondered what you could do with 10 pounds of blueberries? Well, here Blueberry Bucket Pickingis a list of ten things to do with blueberries that will have your mouth watering!

1. Eat them fresh! Blueberries are very low in calories and possess many nutrients such as fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Eating them fresh promotes healthy living in more ways than one!

2. Use them fresh as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, dry cereal, oatmeal, salads, and more!

3. Make homemade jam! Here’s what you’ll need…
a. 4 cups of blueberries
b. 1 cup sugar
c. 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
d. Cook all ingredients for about 30 minutes or until thickened! Blueberries have natural pectin, so they will naturally thicken when they are cooked.

4. Freeze them! As with any berry, blueberries freeze very well and last for up to a year or more in your freezer! Click here to find out how.

5. Make blueberry syrup! This syrup is great on waffles, pancakes, in coffee or lemonade, on ice cream, on other fruit–you name it! Click here to find out how.

6. Bake with them! You can make muffins, scones, cakes, pies, cobbler, and much more with blueberries! Click here for a great recipe for Blueberry Cream Cheese Bites from one of our customers.

7. Dehydrate them! Dehydrated berries are a wonderful snack for kids and adults alike. It will Dehydrated Blueberriestake 6 or 7 pounds of blueberries to make 1 pound of dehydrated berries–a wonderful way to use any extra berries you have! It’s simple to dehydrate blueberries. Make sure they are washed first, then lay them out in one layer on your dehydrator and turn it on! If you poke holes in each berry, they will dehydrate faster, but if you do not, they will take a little more than a day to dehydrate completely. Either way, they make a delicious snack and are worth the wait! They will last for 3-6 months on the shelf in an airtight container.

8. Put them fresh or frozen in a smoothie! Our favorite berry smoothie contains approximately…
a. 1/4 cup of blueberries
b. 1/4 cup of raspberries
c. 1/4 cup of strawberries
d. 1 cup of yogurt
e. 1/2 cup of whole milk
f. 1/2 tsp vanilla
g. Maple Syrup to taste
h. Blend all ingredients together in your blender and you have a wonderful, healthy, refreshing drink! The amounts can vary to your taste, smoothies are never an exact science!Blueberry Cake

9. Decorate with them! They look beautiful on pies, cakes, salads, cheese trays–you can garnish just about anything with blueberries!

10. Last, but not least… Give them away! You can deliver a quart of blueberries to friends, neighbors, the elderly–anyone you can think of! They are guaranteed to put a smile on every face!

What do you do with your blueberries? Let us know in the comments below or email us your recipes and ideas!

We are taking blueberry orders until July 26th, so order your 10 pound boxes of blueberries now–just $32.00 a box! If you buy 4 or more, they are just $30.00 per box! Call us at 920-993-7277 or email us to place your order, and make sure to tell your friends about this great offer!

Thank you!

Christina

The Best Blueberry Syrup Recipe

When you get your blueberries this July, you’re bound to have some left over! Here’s one great recipe that will preserve your blueberries in a delicious syrup that you can use on waffles and pancakes, in smoothies, on ice cream–just like maple syrup, but made from blueberries!

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 5 cups blueberries
– 4 cups water
– 2 cups sugar
– Six 1-inch strips of lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler
– 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. In a pot, crush berries with 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and leave on low heat for 15 minutes. Strain the juice into another bowl and discard the solids (or use the solids to add a little zing to some muffins!).

2. Rinse out the pot. Add sugar, lemon zest, and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup over moderate heat until it registers 225 degrees on a candy thermometer–about 20 minutes. Add blueberry juice and lemon juice and boil over hight heat for 1 minute. Cool the syrup and discard the lemon zest.

3. Pour the syrup into bottles and enjoy!

This syrup will keep for up to six months in your fridge! Make sure you order your blueberries now–just $31.00 for each 10lb box, and if you order 5 or more just $30.00 a box! Order by emailing us or calling us at 920-993-7277–we are taking orders from now until July 21st!

Thank you, and let us know how your syrup turns out!

Christina

The Blueberry’s Nutritional Benefits

Blueberries are a favorite snack for many people, but what do they have going for them beyond their exotic color and explosive taste? It turns out the answer is a lot! Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can buy.

1/2 cup of fresh blueberries carries just 57 calories, so you don’t have to worry about breaking your diet by eating them. Regardless of their low calorie count, they have great health benefiting plant-nutrients such as soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants. All of these things contribute greatly towards your family’s optimum health and wellness!

Blueberries have many anti-oxidants—more than most fruits! Anti-oxidants are very useful to add to your diet as they prevent or delay cell deterioration, something that happens to everyone as they age! These anti-oxidants are in the form of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E—and wouldn’t you rather eat a berry than take a supplement? Blueberries help protect the body from cancers, the effects of aging, degenerative diseases, and infections.

Blueberries also carry small amounts of B-complex vitamins, which help with your metabolism and the ability to process carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They also contain minerals such as potassium, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc, all essential for the body to function properly.

For a cool infographic about blueberry health, click here!

Want to know more about the history of blueberries? The Blueberry Council has some great information!

Next time you open your fridge, make the right choice for your health and take a few of these magical blue pills—you won’t regret it! Order yours now until July 21st from Apple Blossom by calling 920-993-7277 or emailing us—just $31.00/10lb box! Pickup is from July 26th-July 30th.

Christina

Sources: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8

Raspberry Lemon Scones

DSCN3167This recipe for Raspberry Lemon scones is one of our family favorites! Tart, sweet, and refreshing, the mixture of raspberry and lemon flavors is perfect for a summer snack. Grandma Hanson said these are the best scones she has ever tasted–and that’s saying a lot! They take about 15 minutes to prepare and only 20 minutes to bake, and they are absolutely delicious.

You will need…
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– Zest from 1 lemon
– 2 cups flour
– 1 tbsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 6 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 1 cup raspberries
DSCN3194

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
2. Mix sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until evenly distributed. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and mix.
3. Add cubed butter and cut into the flour mixture until it is the texture of coarse sand.
4. Pour heavy cream and raspberries into flour mixture and fold until the dough begins to come together.
5. Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface to bring dough together. With flour on your hands, pat the dough into a circle and cut into 8 triangles.
6. Put the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and set. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
7. Optional: Glaze the top of your scones with a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
8. Enjoy these scones with tea or lemonade on a hot summer day!

Order your raspberries from Apple Blossom today by emailing us or giving us a call–we have plenty on the bushes this year!

Christina

Perfectly Ripe Pears Every Time!

Ripening and Storing Pears
A little known fact about the pear is that it is one of the few fruits that does not ripen on the tree.  The pear is harvested when it is mature, but not yet ripe, and, if left at room temperature, it slowly reaches a sweet and succulent maturity as it ripens from the inside out.

As tempting as the pear might be right from the grocer’s stand, a little bit of patience and know-how will ensure the pear reaches its peak flavor.

So, how do you know when the pear has ripened to sweet and juicy perfection?

While a Bartlett’s skin color brightens as it ripens, most varieties of pears show little change in color.

The best way to judge ripeness for non-Bartlett varieties is to Check the Neck™: Apply gentle pressure to the neck of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe.  Easy, isn’t it?

Here’s what you need to do to ripen your pears:

  • Leave firm, unripe pears at room temperature so that they can ripen.
  • Check the Neck for Ripeness daily, by applying gentle pressure to the neck, or stem end, of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, then it’s ripe and ready to eat!
  • Once the pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated to slow the ripening process and saved for use up to five days later.

To Prevent Browning
Keep a fresh fruit fresh.
Like many fruits, the flesh of cut or peeled pears will eventually brown. This natural oxidation process won’t affect the taste or quality. However, to keep your pears looking appetizing and to prevent browning, dip them in a mild solution of 50% water and 50% lemon juice!

Refrigerating Pears
Remember, don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!
Ripened pears can be used at once or put under refrigeration (35º to 45º F) until you want to use them. Refrigeration will delay further ripening but will not stop it altogether, giving you adequate time to include fresh pears in your menu planning.  Remember, pears need to ripen at room temperature, so don’t refrigerate an unripe pear!

Speedy Ripening
Flavor well worth the wait
Place underripe pears in a fruit bowl at room temperature near other ripening fruit like bananas, which naturally give off ethylene and will help speed up the ripening process. And if you find yourself with a few too many overripe pears, blend them into smoothies, soups, sauces and purees!

Wash Before Eating
All it takes is cold water
Thoroughly wash pears immediately prior to eating or preparation. Under cold, drinkable water, use your clean hands or a soft-bristled produce scrub brush to gently but vigorously scrub the entire exterior of the pear, taking extra care to cleanse the indentations near the stem (at the top) and calyx (at the bottom) of the pear.  The total process will take 15 – 20 seconds.

Washing the entire exterior of the pear will help to eliminate dirt and/or commonly occurring bacteria that may be found on the fruit’s surface. Wash fruit even if you plan on peeling it.

Learn more about proper food handling and the food safety procedures you need to practice at home at www.befoodsafe.org

Source: USAPears.org

Why Buy Orchard Apples? The Truth about Grocery Store Produce

You walk into the produce section at the grocery store, and immediately you see a very colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables. They are so pretty! You choose a half dozen shiny red apples to take home. When you get home, you can’t wait to take a bite! As you sink your teeth into the bright scarlet skin, you are met with a less than appetizing *squish* and a bland taste. How could such a pretty fruit taste so awful?

Well, the apples you buy in the grocery store can be up to a year old—or even more!

Apples typically ripen in the U.S. between late August and early November. Yet you can find apples on the shelves of a grocery store all year round! How do they make these fruits immortal?

This is possible using cold storage where oxygen levels are low and many treatments that these stores would love to keep a secret. To keep the apples looking fresh, stores will wax all of their apples to keep them looking shiny and appealing. So what does all of this mean? Should we care whether our apples are a year old or a day old?

You may have noticed the obvious difference between fresh and stored apples in their flavors and textures. This alone may make you think twice about buying fruit that is not fresh.

Even beyond this, though, is the lack of nutrients older fruit has compared to fresh fruit from a local orchard. In storage, apples and other fruits over time will lose much nutritious dietary fiber. Also, antioxidant activity in apples decreases majorly and eventually stops after three months of cold storage. An apple stored for a year will have almost no antioxidants whatsoever.

So why buy fruit from a grocery store when you can get fresh, nutritious, delicious apples from a local orchard? Keep all of these things in mind next time you are tempted to buy a beautiful-looking apple at the grocery store.

Speaking of beautiful looking apples, we just started picking Honey Crisp, and we also have McIntosh, Paula Red, and Zestar.

Stop by to try the different varieties available, and also to check out the melons, peppers, popcorn, jams, caramel, and other goodies we have just for you!

Christina

Raspberry Torte

We have another customer recipe for you today! Ruth Blohm, a loyal customer of Apple Blossom, has a fabulous Raspberry Torte recipe. Thanks, Ruth, for sharing!

Raspberry Torte

For the flour mixture, you will need…
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water

For the raspberry mixture, you will need…
5 cups raspberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and butter like pie crust.
  2. Stir together 1 egg and the 1/2 cup of cold water, and add to flour mixture.
  3. Set apart 1/4 of the dough for the top crust. Roll out the remainder and put into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  4. In a saucepan, mix raspberries, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a rolling boil.
  5. Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup water, making sure it is dissolved.
  6. Mix cornstarch mixture with raspberry mixture to thicken. Pour raspberry mixture over the crust.
  7. Roll out the dough you put aside and put over top of berries.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes at 375°
  9. Let cool, and frost with powdered sugar frosting if desired.

Let us know how you enjoy Ruth’s recipe! Ruth receives a free half-peck of apples from us this fall for her contribution.

Christina

Matthew’s Kitchen: Refrigerator Pickles

Cucumbers have so many different uses! Besides being delicious pickled, these crazy, colossal cucurbits can be used in salads, stir fry, juicing, sandwiches, and more. Cucumbers are very low in calories, loaded with fiber, and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K for bone health, calcium, iron, and potassium.

They are also 96% water, so if you need a refreshing way to stay hydrated, a cucumber can be as good as a glass of water. Some surprising uses for cucumbers include a breath freshener, sunburn relief, a shoe shine, and a wrinkle remover. It really works!

This recipe only takes 20 minutes to make, and is ready in 6-8 hours, and serves four people. An easy healthy snack for the whole family!

Matthew’s Amazing Refrigerator Pickles

IngredientsRefrigerator Pickle

2 Medium Cucumbers, Sliced
1 Onion, Sliced
1 Cup White Vinegar
3 teaspoons Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Dill
Other spices as desired

1. Mix all ingredients together in any container with a lid.
2. Put the container in the fridge, shaking or mixing every hour or so.
3. The pickles will taste best 6-8 hours after sitting in the fridge.

Want to get creative? Add a pinch of one or more of the following: curry, garlic, oregano, chile flakes, mustard seed, allspice, ginger, sugar, cloves, coriander, and celery seed. Have fun and experiment!

Let us know how your fridge pickles turned out–ours were delicious!

Matthew

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bites

Thanks to Alex and Jen Kolodzne, we now have a wonderful way to use our frozen blueberries! For sending in their recipe, they will receive a free half-peck of apples from us this fall. We all know you would love to try it out, so here it is!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bites

What you’ll need…

1 package puff pastry sheets
1 8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 cups blueberries

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions.
2. Once thawed, roll out each sheet and then cut each sheet into 12 squares. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
3. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray and press each square into muffin tin, stretching slightly.
4. Mix cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spoon mixture evenly on top of each piece of puff pastry.
5. Spoon blueberries evenly on top of cream cheese.
6. Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes and then remove from muffin tin.
7. Enjoy! If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in your fridge.

Thanks again, Alex and Jen, for sharing  your recipe with us!

Just a reminder, our store opens this Friday, August 28th. Our hours this fall will be 9-6 Tuesday-Saturday and 1-6 on Sundays. We will be closed Mondays.

Christina

Freeze Your Berries!

One way to store blueberries (or any berry, really!) for a long time is to freeze them. Freezing berries is easy, and can be a fun family activity on a rainy day!

For freezing at home, you will need…

  • Blueberries, or any other berry you would like to freeze
  • A colander
  • Two absorbent towels or cloths
  • A cookie sheet or 9×13 pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Ziploc bags
  • Room in your freezer

Step 1: Pour your berries into a colander and rinse them with cold water.

Step 2: Place the berries on an absorbent towel. Scan your fruit for any damaged or bruised berries. Pick these out and dispose in the wastebasket or in your mouth if they are simply bruised! Choose berries that are a nice blue color, not punctured, and are nice and firm to touch.

Step 3: Place a dry cloth on top of the berries and lightly pat dry. Drying berries before freezing makes them less likely to stick together in the freezer.

Step 4: Line the cookie sheet or pan with parchment paper and spread the berries out in a single layer. If you have a deeper pan or sheet, you can layer the berries separating each layer with parchment paper.

Step 5: Put your berries in the freezer for 2-3 hours, or until they are solid.

Step 6: Once the berries are solid, fill quart-sized Ziploc bags 3/4 full (just enough that the bags will lay flat in the freezer so you can stack them). Once this is done, put them in the freezer immediately where they will keep for a year or more.

We do this every year with our blueberries, and they are a delicious treat throughout the winter months.

Christina

Matthew’s Kitchen: Impeccable Pesto

Hello, fellow food-lovers! Matthew here!

Here at Apple Blossom, we currently have an overabundance of basil… so I decided to make pesto! I would love to share this recipe with you. We will be selling pesto kits in the store as long as supplies last, and my family says this recipe is amazing!

DSCN0276

 

Here is what you will need:
4 cups basil, packed
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 large garlic cloves, whole
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
A blender

 

DSCN0282

 

First, purée basil and olive oil in the blender. You may need to stir in between blending until all basil is puréed.

 

DSCN0293

 

Once the basil is puréed, add pine nuts, garlic cloves, and salt and blend until smooth.

DSCN0296

Look at the wonderful treat you just made! Delicious! Taste a little of it plain to make sure you are satisfied with the amount of salt. To store your pesto, just cover it and put it in the fridge. In our house, it is usually gone before the day is over!

I like to use pesto in many different ways, including on pizza, pasta, chicken, and even sandwiches!

This sandwich is with parmesan cheese and pesto together.DSCN0300

Come visit our store this weekend for a chance to taste my Impeccable Pesto, and get ingredients to make it yourself at home! How do you like your pesto? Let us know!

Enjoy!

Matthew Hanson

 

 

Hope’s Corner – Raspberries are Here!

The sinister raspberry bushes attack. My arms and legs are covered in scratches. But it’s worth it! Whether in pies, jam, or fresh off the bush, raspberries are a healthy and delicious treat for many. Their tasty sweet and tart flavor and lovely, melt-in-your-mouth texture combined form a wonderful snack.

Raspberries are always ripe at just the right time to use in a festive red, white, and blue salad or cake for Independence Day. They always add a nice bit of color to the holidays.

Raspberry Pie

On the fourth of July, I made a pie for a pie contest my neighbors put on and won third place! Can you guess what kind of pie it was? Raspberry, of course! If you would like the recipe, here it is:

Fresh Raspberry Pie

You will need…

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 dash salt
  • 5 pints fresh raspberries
  • Single pie crust
  • Whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Chocolate shavings
  • 9” pie pan
  • An oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Tin foil

Step 1: In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add this mixture to the berries and toss gently to cover fruit.

Step 2: Fill a pastry lined pie pan with berry mixture. Decorate edge of crust with desired style. I like to use a fork to create a pattern.

Step 3: Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake 25 minutes more. Cool completely. While pie is cooling, whip the whipping cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar together.

Step 4: Using a spoon, ladle any extra juices out of the baked raspberry mixture.

Step 5: Spread whipped cream on top of cooled pie. Sprinkle chocolate shavings on top of pie. Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

Step 6: Enjoy!

Stop by and get a pint or two of our delicious, fresh, ruby red raspberries, and let us know how your pie turns out! We hope to see you in our store soon!

Hope Hanson

Delicious, Locally Grown Apples from Now through Christmas…and Beyond!

Ready for winter yet? It’s beginning to get a bit chilly outside, and the apple season is winding down. However, that does not mean you have to stop eating delicious, locally grown apples!

Last year, we had an excellent harvest and we were eating and delivering apples to local schools well into the New Year. In fact, we enjoyed tasty, crunchy Honey Crisp all the way through April!

So, let’s get started. Here are some tips on how to store apples until Christmas and beyond, and which apples store best.

If you keep your apples through Christmas, you could even get crafty and make decorations like this with them!

If you keep your apples through Christmas, you could even get crafty and make edible decorations like this!

Select the right apples.
In general, early season apples like Paula Red and Zestar don’t tend to store well. Late season apples tend to store very well. So, you’ll want to carefully select the apples that are best for storage.

The best of our varieties for storage include:

  • Snow Sweet (1 – 3 months)
  • Gala (1-3 months)
  • McIntosh (2-4 months)
  • Honey Crisp (2–4 months)
  • Cortland (3-4 months)
  • Spartan (3-4 months)
  • Fuji (4-5 months)

Be careful what apples you choose to store. They should have no bruises, scratches, or cuts in them. These apples should be eaten right away because they can indeed spoil the whole bunch.

How many can I store?
Check how much room you have in your refrigerator. For every cubic foot of available space you have in your refrigerator, you will be able to fill 3/4 of it with apples, leaving the rest of the room for air space. Apples are still living after they are plucked off the tree, so they constantly absorb oxygen and give off carbon dioxide and other gasses. Approximately two and a half pecks of apples will fit in every cubic foot of space.

Store them correctly.
Apples should be stored loose or in plastic bags with holes in them so the air and gas can exchange freely. Ideally, your refrigerator should be set around 32-34 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity should be at about 90 percent. Under these conditions, the apples will stay fresh for quite a long time—up to four or five months, depending on the variety.

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Alternative storage ideas.
Apples can also be stored in a cool, humid cellar that stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Apples freeze at around 27-29 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure your apples will not freeze, as once they get frozen, the quality deteriorates rapidly. You may also keep them in an outbuilding if they are insulated with hay or straw so they do not freeze. This situation works best when it’s above 32 degrees during the day, but slightly below at night.

Let us know if you have any questions, we’d be happy to answer them for you! And make sure to get your apples soon. We are only open through Sunday, November 1, 2015. Hope to see you!

Christina

Produce as it Progresses and a Sunflower Garden

Hello again! It’s been a busy week at Apple Blossom Orchard and Market—and our plants have been busy too. They have been making so many fruits and vegetables! I decided to take a walk through our gardens here, and show you some of the baby versions of what we have growing at our orchard!

The apples looked excellent. It looks like we have a great crop to share with you!

Baby Apple Baby Cantaloupe Three
Our cantaloupe was looking excellent. These babies from our cantaloupe crop are about three inches around. We tap on our melons and listen for a hollow noise to make sure they are ripe!

Baby Honeydew

 

This baby honeydew is a little bit bigger than the baby cantaloupe pictured previously. Honeydew is one of our favorite fruits to eat on the orchard!
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We found a very small watermelon to show you, and the watermelon flowers were beautiful too! We have had some awesome seed-spitting contests.

 
Baby Cherry TomatoesThese cherry tomatoes were just beginning to get ripe. Those are my personal favorite fruit–I’ve loved them since I was very small.

 

 

 

 

These peas were perfect for eating. They just keep on coming!

Fat PeaFat Beans

 

 

 

Another personal favorite of mine… beans! I will eat them all day if I am allowed to. I have eaten up to three quarts full a day!

 

 

 

And then, at the end of my expedition… I came upon our sunflower garden. It had been a couple days since I had explored it. It exploded! We have several varieties, including monstrous-sized mammoth sunflowers, teddy bear sunflowers, and some red and lemon-colored sunflowers. They are beautiful.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will enjoy these fruits as much as I have!

Christina

Huge Sunflower Garden Teddy Bear Sunflower Red Sunflower Mammoth Sunflower

Hope’s Corner – Berry Information!

Hello, this is Hope!

I love eating and picking berries, although eating is my favorite.  :) We have raspberries, blackberries, as well as blueberries in our store: Apple Blossom Orchard and Market.

How many of you LOVE berries? If you do, stay right here for info from an expert, me!

Many of you have recently bought blueberries here this week. Let me share with you how to keep them. First of all, pop them in the fridge right away. The colder the better. Wash them by rinsing with cold water only when it’s time to gobble them up. This is the same for all berries.

If you have more than you can eat, there are two things you can do with them; freeze them or bake something delicious.

To freeze them, just rinse them with water, let them drain in a colander, and put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, we put them in zip-lock bags. If you freeze them like this, they will be easy to grab right out of the bag by the handful.

For those of you who don’t know, raspberries are a delicious variety of berry that is red and soft (if cultivated correctly.) One raspberry is made up of many smaller berries, and they grow on something called a cane. A group of canes looks somewhat like a bush – but don’t be deceived! Raspberries are related to apples, as both are in the rose family.

Raspberry Catcher

I can catch them in my mouth almost every time :)

Our raspberry season is from late June to mid July, and from early September to mid October. Raspberries have a subtle flavor, with a bit of tartness that makes an addicting mixture.

Our canes have produced a lot this year. So many that I bet we have picked more than 250 pints! About 100 of those went to jam making. Three weeks ago, we made nearly 100 pints of freezer jam! See the recipe below. With the help of a few friends, we kept on picking and picking while we poured raspberries into huge bowls, boiled them down, and put them into jars. That was probably our biggest day for raspberries. Out of 250 pints I think 25 of them have gone into my mouth. :P

Blackberries are similar to raspberries.   Both are clusters of smaller, individual berries, being closely related to raspberries. They grow on drooping canes that we train on trellises to grow in the correct direction. Blackberries have a strong sweet flavor with a hint of tartness, making them a delicious treat.

Half-Ripe Raspberries

So far our blackberries are ripening well!

Blueberries are single berries that grow on tall bushes in tight clusters. The skin is a dark blue that is almost indigo—one of the only truly blue fruits. The flesh is a purplish green that squirts out as you bite through the soft but thick skin. Their flavor is extremely sweet, with a bit of tartness that balances the delicious taste. Check out our previous blog for more blueberry information, and a couple other recipes!

I love these three berries and they are a delicious snack for any time of the day. My sister Christina loves putting them in smoothies and on cereal, and here are some other simple recipes anyone can make!

Berry Fridge Jam
4 pints (about 8 cups) raspberries or blackberries (or a mix of both! We have not tried this with blueberries yet.)
2 cups sugar (or to taste! We put in a lot less than this :D)
One packet (about 1.5-2 oz.) powdered fruit pectin (or more if you want it thicker)
1/4 cup room temperature water (if the pectin needs to dissolve first)

Before beginning to make your jam, put a plate in the freezer so you can test the jam later and wash the jars (you will need two or three pint jars) you are planning to put your jam in. Gently wash the berries, and then put them into a pot. Mash the berries and sugar together, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then simmer the jam, stirring often. Add your pectin to room temperature water, and after it is dissolved, add it to the jam and mix thoroughly. The longer you simmer your jam, the thicker it will be. When you are ready to test the jam for thickness, take the plate out of the freezer and quickly put a teaspoon of jam on the plate. Tip the plate. You will be able to see how thick the jam is this way. When it is the desired consistency, put the jam in jars and let it cool down. Then, screw the lids on and store them in the fridge or freezer. The jam will keep for up to three weeks! It is amazing on ice cream.
Raspberry Fridge JamSometimes I love to eat it with a spoon it’s so good!

Berry Limeade
6 cups water, divided into cups
2 pints (about 4 cups) raspberries or blackberries (If you try this with blueberries, let us know!)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
A blender

Put one cup water and 4 cups berries in your blender. Process this until it is smooth. If you would like a seedless drink, press the puree through a sieve into a pitcher and throw away the seeds. Add the remaining 5 cups of water, the sugar, and the lime juice to the pitcher. Stir until sugar dissolves. Pour into cups and enjoy! Add ice if desired. Makes about 8 servings.

I hope you liked my blog! Come back on the last Thursday of every month for more of my writing. Have any suggestions for what we should write about? Let us know by e-mailing us at appleblossomlane2@gmail.com.

Hope Hanson

Our Fantastical Blueberry Expedition

Today we set off on our trip to Michigan to pick up blueberries! It just starts to rain spottily as we leave—unfortunately not hitting Apple Blossom Orchard, but providing relief for us from the unrelenting heat of the sun. Our produce needs moisture! As we leave, we pray some rain will water our trees and gardens.

On the way, we pass through Chicago (playing many car games and spotting a fancy Ferrari to boot!) and then again find ourselves watching the corn and alfalfa fields pass by. We learn many interesting things about Michigan. The soil is mostly sandy; this is perfect for growing blueberries, as the bushes prefer well-drained soil. Also, Michigan is the leading producer of blueberries in the United States with 87 million pounds harvested in 2012. We surmise that this may be why blueberries do not grow as well in Wisconsin. Other random facts we enjoy learning: the state bird is the robin, just like Wisconsin, and the state reptile is the painted turtle. Suddenly, the fields change! The stalks of corn become large bushes—the first time we have ever seen acres of blueberry bushes in person. Of course, we stopped on the side of the road to take pictures. They were so beautiful, growing in clusters, with the blue fruit contrasting against the green foliage.

Blueberry Bushes

One of the only naturally blue fruits in the world!

We listen to the weather report, as well, which reports up to 8-foot tall waves on Lake Michigan. Whoa! There are hardly any cars on the road due to the cloudy and possibly stormy weather as we approach our destination. The blueberry fields become more concentrated, and a few minutes later, we reach the blueberry place. We see workers going in and out of the packaging facility, breaking for lunch, and finally stacking our order of 2,500 pounds of blueberries onto the forklifts. Two nice men named Willie and Alfredo man the forklifts, and with expertise, load two pallets onto our trailer and the remainder of the order into the back of our SUV.

Blueberries on Forklift

Load ’em up!

Tons of Blueberries

That’s a ton of blueberries!

We take one of the boxes up front and begin consuming them. We can testify, they are absolutely delicious! By the end of the trip back home, the box is mostly empty—approximately 7 pounds of blueberries eaten by five people in one day. We aren’t sick yet! Sometimes you can live off random foods.

Matthew Sleeping after Gorging

Filling your stomach full of blueberries makes you sleepy!

Here are some amazing blueberry recipes…

Blueberry Buckle

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 pint fresh or thawed frozen blueberries

Topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (if desired)

Cream sugar and shortening together. Add remaining ingredients except blueberries. Mix well. Carefully fold in blueberries. Pour into a greased 9” pan. Combine topping ingredients with a fork until a course crumb consistency. Sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 degrees 45-50 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.

Grandma and Deliciousness

Grandma made Blueberry Buckle for us, and was very excited to share it!

Blueberry Sherbet 

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh mint sprig to garnish (if desired)

Process first five ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch square pan. Cover and freeze for 4 hours or until firm. Process frozen mixture in a blender until smooth. Cover and freeze 4 hours until frozen again. Garnish, if desired. For this recipe, we simply ate it after blending it the first time.

Enjoy! I know we are!

Christina

Germination Testing – Save Your Seeds!

Do you ever have seeds left over from springs past? You hate to throw them out, but how do you know you won’t be wasting your time and end up with a poor stand? A very simple germination test is the answer! Even if you have poor germination, you may still be able to use the old seeds, simply adjust your planting intensity.

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What you need:

1 Sharpie
1 Roll of paper towels
Seeds
1 Cookie sheet
Cling wrap
Spray bottle filled with water

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Step 1: Lay out one paper towel on the cookie sheet for each seed packet you have. Then take your sharpie and write the name of the seed on them. After that flip the paper towels over.

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Step 2: Take ten seeds from each packet and lay them in a row in the paper towel with their name on it.

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Step 3: Fill a spray bottle with water and gently spray paper towels with water, then roll paper towels up with seeds so you can see the name.

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Step 4: Wait up to 14 days spraying them every day to keep them damp. Check often for swelling of the seeds by feeling the paper towels for bumps.

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Step 5: Unroll paper towels and check each seed for any growth or swelling in the seed, as well as any plant material growing. Write down the percentage on each packet according to how many seeds germinated. Example: All ten cucumbers germinated, which means you have 100% germination. If only five cantaloupe seeds germinated, that is 50% germination. In this case, simply plant twice the recommended amount in order to achieve the proper stand.

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This fool-proof test will assure that you waste nothing and yet end up with a bountiful harvest this summer and fall.