Maine’s Official Fruit has a Pesky Visitor

In 2012, Maine produced 91.1 million pounds of blueberries, the largest crop in a decade. At the average wholesale price of seventy-six cents per pound, Maine’s blueberry revenue totaled $69.2 million. The state has approximately 60,000 acres of fields dedicated to the growth of the wild berry but only one percent of the berries are sold right off the bush. The remaining berries are frozen or dried for wholesale distribution. Summer 2013 promised to deliver another bumper crop. However, growers throughout the state reported crop damage from a destructive Asian fruit fly, the spotted wing Drosophila. Organic farmers made use of experimental mesh traps in an attempt control the pest. Unlike Asian visitors who frequent L.L. Bean and contribute to the economy, this visitor has received a H1B Visa to live and wreck havoc in Maine.

Wild blueberries grow naturally in Maine’s fields and coastal regions. This low growing indigenous plant was first harvested 12,000 years ago by Native Americans for health and medicinal purposes. Towards the end of July or the beginning of August, fruit stands and markets throughout the state sell the small highly prized wild berry. Most commercially markets offer the cultivated variety, as well. Thanks to Jasper Wyman and Sons wild blueberries are available year round.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

 H1B Visa Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS

Streusel Topping (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar (or white)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Muffins

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch table salt
1 cup light brown sugar, packed firm
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tbs. grated lemon zest , lime, or orange
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups blueberries

DIRECTIONS

For the topping, mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl or work bowl of a food processor; add butter. If mixing by hand, use fingertips, a pastry blender, or two forks to blend butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like coarse irregular crumbs, with no visible lumps. Set aside.

For the muffins, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease the top surface of a twelve cup muffin pan; use liners, if desired. Whisk the dry ingredients, the lemon zest and the ginger in a large bowl; set aside.

Whisk together wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients to partially blend. Continue mixing batter with a rubber spatula, making sure that ingredients at the bottom are incorporated into batter; fold in berries.

Using an ice-cream scoop, place a portion of batter into each muffin cup, filling to the brim. Sprinkle a portion of streusel topping over batter in each muffin cup.

Bake 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake until muffins are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with fingertips, ten to twelve minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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