What's in Season

What Goes Best with Blueberries? Pretty Much Everything

Whether you’re baking muffins or whirling a summer smoothie, don’t miss an opportunity to use the season’s berry best

Photo: John Burgoyne

If you catch chef Kelly Fields leaving the walk-in at their New Orleans restaurant and bakery, Willa Jean, chances are they have a fistful of one of their favorite summer ingredients: blueberries. “I can’t resist. They’re like the nuanced cousin of the grape,” says Fields, whose cookbook, The Good Book of Southern Baking: A Revival of Biscuits, Cakes, and Cornbread will be published this fall. “They make me think about visiting my grandmother when I was a kid. Her backyard was up against a big field where I’d jump the fence and pick wild blueberries and blackberries all afternoon. I’d return to the house covered in scratches from bushes and brush, with my hands, face, and clothes stained from snacking on my harvest.” Blueberries have a long growing season in the South, with varieties ripening from early spring through late summer. This, along with their versatility, makes them a go-to in restaurant kitchens. Of course, they work well in sweet dishes, but they also elevate savory bites. “I particularly love blueberries in game dishes, where the sweet and tart really round out the flavor,” the chef says. If you’re grabbing some fresh from the farmers’ market, look for a batch with firm, smooth skin and an almost dry appearance. “I’ll be honest, I always eat one—it’s the best test,” says Fields, who favors the Woodard variety early in the season, then shifts over to the Tifblue toward late summer. At home they’re best stored in containers that allow them to be spread out in a single layer—they’ll keep about a week in the fridge this way. “Eat them raw, make them into jam, blend them into cocktails, smoothies, lemonade. Put them in all your baked goods. Try them as a base for barbecue sauce. Seriously, use them in anything and everything—they’re a real gift of summer.”

The Chef Recommends
Blueberry Ginger Muffins

Yield: 36 muffins 

cups plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
cups bread flour
4 tsp. ground ginger, divided
1 tbsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
2¼ tsp. kosher salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
1½ cups plus 1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar 
½ cup cane syrup
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. honey
5 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
4 cups blueberries 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix both flours with 1 tsp. ground ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cane syrup, honey, and remaining 1 tbsp. ground ginger, then beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, then gently stir in the blueberries. Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (rotating halfway through), until a toothpick comes out clean.