July Food for Thought: Stalking the Wild Blueberry
Take a walk in the woods for a tantalizing snack or a sophisticated condiment
Over 20 years ago I remember hiking in northern New Hampshire just outside of Errol and stumbling upon the famous wild blueberry bushes that decorate the landscape.
These tasty little treats are indigenous to Maine and Canada, and are usually called wild Maine blueberries. But I had picked these berries in N.H., wouldn’t that make them wild N.H. blueberries? I thought so, and so I proceeded to fill a container of these berries and took them home and made a very appetizing Wild N.H. blueberry chutney. People I shared this culinary masterpiece with said, “You must mean wild Maine blueberries.” I said, “No, I picked these in New Hampshire.” I assured these folks that these berries had no idea where the border was. I know, I know -some things are better left unsaid.
But seriously, if you haven’t made a wild blueberry chutney, you should. Chutney, from the east Indian word for chatni, is a great condiment containing fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. The texture can range from smooth to chunky, and from mild to hot. This blueberry chutney is great served over cream cheese to smear on crackers and makes a refreshing sandwich spread. Another tasty combination is serving this blueberry chutney over pan-seared duck breast or roasted pork loin. Really, there’s no taste on earth quite like the wild blueberry. I’m not the first to say this, but I would certainly agree.
Chef Steve James is a Certified Master Baker and managing partner with Popovers on the Square in Portsmouth.
Wild N.H. Blueberry chutney
4 cups wild N.H. blueberries
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup minced onions
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
red pepper flakes optional
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottom pot and slowly bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 50 minutes and store in glass jars. The chutney will keep about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Believe me, it won’t be around that long once you get a taste of this.