How to Cure Your Summer Blues—and Cook Them Too
26 ways to showcase blueberries' summery sweetness.
Thanks to modern advancements in snap-cold technologies, blueberries are available year-round as flash-frozen treats. But both cultivated and wild varieties are at their peak in the height of summer. That’s when markets overflow with punnets of the luscious, tart pearls and our hands—and lips—stain purple as we race back to bake the sweet fruit into crisps, pies, and cakes.
With their perfect blend of sweet and sour, blueberries make for a beautiful jam slathered all over your morning toast. Or, take the ingredient in an unexpected savory direction by brushing a blueberry barbecue sauce over grilled chicken. While their sugars, when cooked, caramelize to appealingly sticky-sweetness, the berries’ natural acidity also intensifies vinaigrettes and sauces. While dinner cooks, sip down some bloobs in the form of a boozy drink, milkshake, or shrub to keep you cool in the summer heat.
Thanks to their relatively thick, taut skins, blueberries retain their shape particularly well when frozen, so don’t hesitate to stash part of your market haul on ice. But be aware: once thawed, previously frozen berries will stain everything they touch. To avoid this, fold the fruit into cake and muffin batters while they’re still frozen. Looking for another way to preserve your summer blueberries? Add some dimension to your pickle cabinet by curing the little gems in vinegar for a unique cocktail garnish or sandwich topper.
In Alaska, wild blueberries (also called Kyani berries) are picked in the summer and frozen for use during the winter, especially in pies. Get the recipe for Nell Huffman’s Blueberry Pie »
Sweet, fresh blueberries are complemented by a generous hit of fresh lemon zest in this quintessential muffin recipe. Overmixing the batter will result in a tough muffin, so stir only until most of the flour is moistened. Get the recipe for Classic Blueberry Muffins »
Granola and quinoa lend a sneaky earthy-crunchy vibe to these substantial, fluffy pancakes from Dennis Bernard, chef de cuisine of Chicago’s Dove’s Luncheonette. Get the recipe for Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes with Lemon Crema »
Similar to a shrub—a fruit syrup punctuated by vinegar—my Blue Q sauce makes a bracing drink when mixed with club soda or booze. It’s also the first step in a fruity vinaigrette. And as much as it loves smoke, this sauce sees my oven more than my grill. Keep in mind this is not a marinade. Brush it on toward the end of cooking and let the chicken soak up more of the sauce before serving. The final soak is key. Get the recipe for Blueberry Barbecue Chicken »
Inspired by his neighbor Olivia Pattison’s recipe, chef Chris Fischer uses tapioca in the filling of this pie because it thickens the juicy berry mixture without imparting its own flavor or becoming gummy. Minute tapioca pearls are easy to find in grocery stores, but if you like, substitute an equal amount of cornstarch. Get the recipe for Black and Blue Berry Pie »
Cookbook author Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir braises ruby red cabbage with warm spices, fruit, and jam for this festive, sweet-tart side dish that rounds out an Icelandic Christmas menu. Get the recipe for Spiced Cabbage with Blueberries (Kryddað Rauðkál með Bláberjum) »
Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga of Ovenly in Brooklyn give us their recipe for nectarine, blueberry, and vanilla bean hand pies, which work equally well for breakfast as they do dessert. Get the recipe for Nectarine, Blueberry, and Vanilla Bean Hand Pies »
This recipe is inspired by a cocktail at Fish & Meat, a rustic Italian restaurant in Hong Kong. It’s lightly sweet thanks to the jam, but also quite tart and refreshing. Get the recipe for Get the recipe for Blueberry Jam and Prosecco Cocktail »
A long, cooling cocktail, the Carolina Blues follows the classic Tom Collins blueprint, swapping simple syrup for shrub, soda for prosecco, and lemon juice for lime. The blueberry shrub in this recipe is actually North Carolina chef Vivian Howard’s blueberry barbecue sauce, which she uses to glaze chicken, but its makeup is similar enough to a shrub that it can pull double duty. Get the recipe for Carolina Blues Blueberry Cocktail »
Rustic sour-milk pancakes make for a delicious breakfast, especially when topped stewed blueberries and maple syrup. Get the recipe for Sour-Milk Griddle Cakes »
A thick, jammy layer of blueberries tops dense, buttery cake. Slightly sweet and dramatic, this is best made with the ripest in-season blueberries. All it needs is a dollop of whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. Get the recipe for Blueberry Upside Down Cake »
If you are lucky enough to find yourself with an overabundance of blueberries, this easy-to-make crisp is a delicious way to prepare them. It can also be made with peaches, plums, or other summer berries. Get the recipe for Blueberry Crisp »
Layers of sweet corn pastry cream alternate with an herb-infused blueberry compote and a buttery shortbread crumble in a summery spin on the classic trifle. Any other berry at its peak makes a delicious substitution; try layering the ingredients into mason jars for an easy-to-transport picnic dessert. Get the recipe for Sweet Corn and Blueberry Trifles »
The floral character of poppy seeds shines when paired with blueberries in this rich dessert. Get the recipe for Blueberry-Poppy Seed Squares (Borůvkový Koláč) »
In Finland, wild summer berries are frozen for use in winter’s mustikkakeitto, a warm, silky blueberry potage packed with vitamin C. Get the recipe for Mustikkakeitto »
Bright shiso leaves and a touch of earthy sesame oil enhance this stone fruit and berry salad. Get the recipe for Blueberry, Nectarine and Shiso Salad »
Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are brightened with lemon juice and zest to make the filling for this juicy pie. Get the recipe for Razzleberry Pie »
Sweet and smoky blueberry chipotle ketchup makes a perfect addition to all manner of grilled foods; it’s great in place of barbecue sauce on chicken legs and meaty portobello mushrooms. Get the recipe for Blueberry Chipotle Ketchup »
A scoop of vanilla ice cream and a hefty slice of pie go into the blender together, and out comes the ultimate dessert: A creamy shake with buttery crumbles of pie crust and ribbons of gorgeous fruit filling throughout. Get the recipe for Blueberry Pie Milkshake »
Blueberries add a fruity note to classic Texas Pete’s sauce. Get the recipe for Poogan’s Porch Blueberry Texas Pete Sauce »
This tart-sweet compote with a hint of spice is wonderful spooned over vanilla ice cream. Get the recipe for Rhubarb and Berry Compote »
Blueberries are great candidates for jam-making because of their high level of pectin—preserve them at the height of summer and enjoy their flavor year-round. Get the recipe for Blueberry Jam with Lemon and Thyme »
Fresh blueberries bolstered by jam make these donuts especially flavorful. Get the recipe for Blueberry Donuts »
Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7 Sub Shop in New York City created these sweet-tart pickled blueberries for his sandwich of brie, pistachios, and chervil. Get the recipe for Pickled Blueberries »
Less sweet and sticky than a traditional jam, this fruit butter ends up tasting like blueberry pie in a jar. Get the recipe for Slow-Cooker Blueberry Butter »