Blueberry season is upon us. Depending on how badly your farmer’s crop was hit by last winter’s cold snap, you may or may not find local blueberries at the market. But you can definitely find delicious products made from the blueberries of seasons past.
What is ketchup anyway? It needs to be tangy. It needs to be sweet. It should have some spice to it, although that doesn’t mean heat - just flavor. It needs to be a complement to grilled meats and must have the right consistency so it works for dipping. And, as it turns out, it doesn’t have to be made from tomatoes. Blackberry Patch in Thomasville makes lots of berry products including preserves, jams and jellies, fruit salsas, yogurt toppings and syrups. They also make ketchup from blueberries, balsamic vinegar and cane sugar. You can use it straight from the jar to dip your French fries, or stir some into a batch of baked beans, use it to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich or top your favorite meatloaf just before serving. Or mix it with a little oil for a fruity salad dressing. You’ll come up with dozens of ideas. $7.95 for a 10-ounce jar. Buford Highway Farmers Market, 5600 Buford Highway, Atlanta. 770-455-0770. blackberrypatch.com
Near Augusta, in Waynesboro, Georgia, Dick Byne and his family are growing organic blueberries on 15 acres of family land. You can visit the farm and pick your own blueberries, or you can order some of their blueberry treats. They’re making dried blueberries which they also cover in milk or dark chocolate, blueberry jelly and jam, blueberry syrup, blueberry preserves in regular and sugar-free versions, a snack bar made with Georgia peanuts and dried blueberries and juice. Delicious pure blueberry juice. It takes a pound of fresh blueberries to make enough juice for a 10-ounce bottle. We love it. It’s cold pressed, there’s no sugar added and it’s the essence of fresh blueberries. There couldn’t be an easier way to get the hit of antioxidants that come with blueberries. You’ll easily spot the glass bottles with the labels featuring the lovely Byne daughters. $5 for a 10-ounce jar. Nature’s Garden Express, 99 Krog Street, Atlanta. byneblueberries.com
Vinegar is one of those magic ingredients that happily absorbs all kinds of flavors. Infuse apple cider vinegar with blueberries, basil and rosemary, for example, and you end up with a lovely purple-tinted and fruity complement to many things you’re going to eat this summer. Athens, Georgia-based Piedmont Provisions makes several varieties of herbal vinegar including raspberry-basil, pear-sage and blackberry-rosemary. Our favorite is the blueberry. We like it drizzled over fruit salads, added to sparkling water or used in a marinade for chicken or pork. Some fruit-infused vinegars are syrupy and sweet. We think this one strikes the right balance of tart to fruit. $12 per 12-ounce bottle. Available at local farmers markets including Athens Farmers Market, Grant Park Farmers Market, Green Market at Piedmont Park, Peachtree Road Farmers Market and Ponce City Market. piedmontprovisions.com