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Diggin' It

How to grow and prepare blueberries

A gardener and a chef team up with advice on growing and cooking blueberries, including a recipe for a cool and elegant summer dessert.

By Anne K Moore and Linda Weiss / July 18, 2011

When you're looking for ways to use summer's bounty of ripe blueberries, recipes such as Blueberry-Lime Napoleon are cool and spectacular solutions.

Courtesy of Linda Weiss

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Blueberries are extremists, says Anne, the gardener. They need intensely acid soil, a pH of 4.0 to 5.0. Add sunshine and a steady supply of water to the roots and you will produce a bumper crop of those tasty berries.

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Acid soil necessary

To acidify soil that is too “sweet” (alkaline), use agricultural sulphur according to label directions. After you plant the blueberry bushes, use acid-producing organic mulches such as pine, oak, or hemlock leaves/needles at least two inches thick. You can also use a fertilizer formulated for acid plants.

You can prune blueberry bushes into ornamental shapes so they will even fit into a street-side garden. They have little bell-shaped blossoms in the spring, which turn into plump berries, first a kind of pink and then the rich blue.

You will know when the berries are ripe because they will easily spill into your hand when you gently tug on the clusters.

Northern and Southern blueberries

Gardeners in the North can grow the Northern highbush varieties that withstand the cold and snowy winters. If you live in a warmer climate, you’ll want to seek out the Southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries, which tolerate heat and humidity.

Some of the newer varieties don’t require a pollinator to produce fruit, but you will have a larger crop if you plant two different cultivars. For cross-pollination, be sure to purchase two that bloom at the same time.

Be sure to use some of your ripe berries for this scrumptious dessert Linda has designed.

A spectacular, cool, and delicious dessert

Like most cooks, says Linda the chef, I lie awake at night trying to think of new recipes. What recipe could I create that would befit a Sunday afternoon dessert in the garden, be easy to make, and taste like heaven on a plate?

Blueberry and lime napoleons with glazed blueberry-lime topping was the answer that came one night.

The next day when I was recipe testing, I put one napoleon together and then I tried to take photos of it. Unfortunately, I took a bite before I had finished shooting. I ate it all! There was nothing left to send but a photo of an empty dessert plate.

Ashamed I was. On the other hand, I was thinking about how glad I was that I had made only one. Otherwise, I would have eaten the other one, too!

Blueberry-Lime Napoleons With Glazed Blueberry & Lime Topping

Phyllo Cookies

1 package phyllo dough

Sugar

Sliced almonds

Butter

Follow package directions for defrosting, preparation, and storage of dough. (I used 10 sheets of 9-by-14-inch dough.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet, place a sheet of parchment paper.

Melt one-half stick of butter.

Place a sheet of phyllo on the parchment paper and using a pastry brush, lightly butter the dough.

Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Keep layering with butter and sugar until you have 5 sheets of prepared phyllo dough.

Butter and sugar the top layer of dough, and add as many sliced almonds as you like. Slice the dough across the middle lengthwise, and then divide down into four sections.

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