Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Most of us have gone to the grocery store in January and bought a tomato. Sure, they look good. The taste, however, is a different matter. January tomatoes are hard, flavorless and not sweet. They are nothing like a home-grown tomato. August homegrown tomatoes are tender, sweet, juicy and full of flavor. And so are August blueberries.
I have bought plenty of blueberries at the grocery store and I liked them. They are grown and harvested who knows where and packed into little boxes to be shipped all over the world. In order for them to make that trip they need to be very firm and not quite ripe, which means they are not very sweet and juicy. Locally grown blue berries are different. Just like those homegrown tomatoes, they are tender, sweet, juicy and full of flavor. Rumor has it that blueberries are good for you, too, as they are full of antioxidants.
You might even think you don't like blueberries, but I bet you would like Dan Moe's blueberries. Dan is a new vendor at the Kimball Area Farmer's Market and he grows berries and vegetables on his family farm south of Dassel. I think if you tasted his berries you would agree with me. They are a perfect example of how locally grown food can be dramatically better. You can bet that Mr. Potato Head is very busy figuring out how to grow these babies in his own container garden. Until that happens he is going to become one of Dan's best customers.
Mr. Potato Head is not a big dessert person, but he does have a very good blueberry pie recipe. It makes a flavorful, firm pie that is easy to cut and serve and tastes great. The apple adds a little bit of flavor and helps the pie to "set up". You are on your own for the crust, but most of you probably know more about pie crust than me. If not, buy a frozen one at the store. These berries are so good it may be the best pie you have ever made!
Blueberry Pie Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
1 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Place 1 1/2 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 2 1/2 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling. Cover with top crust, crimp and bake for 45 - 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until juice bubbles and crust is deep golden brown.
If you have gardening questions or suggestions for Mr. Potato Head please e-mail him at
Mr. Potato Head is Stearns County Master Gardener and Kimball resident Rick Ellis.