I had lunch with a good friend the other day, and toward the end of our meal together, she asked, “What are you doing Sunday afternoon?” When I replied with “Not too much, what’s going on?” She said, “Would you like to come pick blueberries with me?” To anyone else, this may have seemed an arduous way to spend the Sabbath, but the wheels in my brain immediately started turning. Would you believe the only way I’ve ever purchased or eaten a blueberry has been from the pint-sized packages sold in the produce section of the grocery store? Pick blueberries, I thought? That sounds like a blast! Casey and I have known each other for more than a decade–we were college roommates and sorority sisters, and just recently, I learned her family farmed blueberries, peanuts and cotton in the Southeast Georgia town of Baxley. It’s good to have friends in high places!
After a short drive from Statesboro, we arrived at her family’s home situated down a dirt road between fields of planted row crops and chicken houses. Yard dogs of every color and size greeted us at the car, barking excitedly, tails wagging and curiosity high. With buckets in tow, we took the four wheeler out to the 15-acre blueberry patch. The weather was perfect–mid-80’s with a gentle breeze, the sky, bright blue with puffy white clouds.
When it comes to blueberries, there are hundreds of different varieties that grow and thrive better depending on the region where they’re planted. We picked Star blueberries from the Southern Highbush family. The shape at the bottom of the blueberry has five points, resembling a star. This variety is particularly suitable for coastal areas because of its soil adaptability, heat tolerance and low winter chilling. The Southern Highbush variety produces super large berries with a pleasantly sweet flavor, perfect for enjoying by themselves or in baked and savory dishes. The fruit ripens late April to mid-May, so we picked these just in time! The two most common varieties grown in Georgia are Highbush and Rabbiteye. The Georgia Blueberry Growers Association confirms that in 2014, Georgia was named the #1 blueberry producing state with a reported 96 millions pounds.
Ripe and ready for the pickin’, the blueberries practically fell off the vine into our buckets. With as many blueberries as I ate that day, I’m surprised I didn’t turn into one! They were plump and bursting with juicy, sweet flavor. With a toss in the air, we caught them in our mouths like popcorn. After an hour or two, we ended up with three gallons of berries, half of which I promptly brought home and put to good use. There’s something so satisfying about picking your own fruit, then coming home to your kitchen to bake up something beautiful.
After washing the ones I needed and freezing the others, that’s just what I did. I’m excited to share my Blueberry Lattice Pie recipe with y’all. Whether you need a baked good for Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July or just want a taste of summertime, this pie will satisfy! The to-die-for pastry crust is made with shortening and holds up well against the simple filling. Lemon zest adds a bright citrus note and a little sugar plays up the natural sweetness of the fruit. If you’re short on time, a store bought crust will do (but I highly recommend the from-scratch crust. There’s no comparison!). If you’re not fortunate enough to have a friend with a blueberry farm like me, you can also use frozen berries. 😉
Blueberry Lattice Pie
This recipe and the crust is inspired by Better Homes & Gardens Berry Pie.
1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie (below)
5 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
2/3 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Heavy cream and sugar for brushing and dusting top
Prepare and roll out pastry for Double-Crust Pie. Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of the pastry by wrapping it around the rolling pin and unfolding it into the pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate to fit and crimp edges. In a large bowl combine the sugar and flour. Stir in berries and lemon zest. Gently toss berries until coated. (If using frozen fruit, let mixture stand for 45 minutes or until fruit is partially thawed, but still icy.) Transfer berry mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate. Roll remaining dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips. Weave strips over filling in a lattice pattern. Press strip ends into bottom pastry rim. Fold bottom pastry over strip ends; seal and crimp edge.
Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 25 minutes (or 50 minutes for frozen fruit). Remove foil. Bake pie for 25 to 30 minutes more or until filling is bubbly and top is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 8 servings.
Pastry for Double-Crust Pie
Makes: 8 servings
Prep: 15 mins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 6 tablespoons cold water
Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Divide in half. Form each half into a ball. See directions for Blueberry Lattice Pie.
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Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC TV’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the program “Statesboro Cooks.” Lingenfelser is a student at the award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. To learn more,visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk or connect with Rebekah on social media by following Some Kinda Good on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.