There are a few things I watch for every year with the kind of anticipation normally reserved for an opening of an envelope to declare a winner, or the teeing up of a field goal attempt with just a few seconds remaining on the clock. One of those things is the Facebook page of Champney's Blueberry Farm, which announces the start of their annual blueberry season each June. Among the many things I love about Charleston summers, their blueberries are just about at the top of my list.
Even better, this Saturday, June 21 is Champney's annual fundraiser, Berries for Babies, where half of the proceeds from each pound of blueberries picked get donated to the MUSC Children's Hospital. The event this year will also include food and beverages available for purchase from Cast Iron Food Truck and Kona Ice. The event runs from 9:00am to 7:00pm, and the star of the show, the blueberries, promise not to disappoint.
As for my family, well, we just couldn't wait until Saturday, and so earlier this week we trucked over to the farm with our little ones (ages 3 and 18 months) in tow. I feel like each year our multiple visits to the farm benchmark the evolution of our family life. Last year my then 6-month old daughter sat patiently in the stroller, sweating it out while we hoarded blueberries and snuck in more than a bite or two in the process. This year, my daughter sweated it out while running down each aisle, blissfully plucking blueberries from just about anywhere she could find them, whether green or purple or blue. My son, on the other hand, kept a running tally of his blueberry stash, eagerly anticipating the next step in our blueberry process, the pie.
My pie recipe isn't necesssariy the best one out there, but it sure is easy. The only hard part is waiting for the pie to cool and for the juices to set a bit. If you can resist long enough to let that happen, then I promise the waiting will be well worth it.
Blueberry Pie (recipe adapted from Allrecipes)
2 pie crusts (I use Trader Joe's premade crusts if I'm looking for a shortcut, or this excellent recipe for pate brisee if I want to do it right)
5 cups fresh blueberries
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup white sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together cornstarch, sugar, lemon, lemon zest and cinnamon and toss with blueberries to coat. Line pie plate with pie crust and fill with blueberry mixture. Cover pie with the other half of a crust (if using pate brisee, or the second crust if using Trader Joe's); seal and crimp edges firmly. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the oven (to catch berry juices that may leak out of pie during baking). Bake for 35 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 15-20 more minutes. Remove and set on a wire rack to cool at least 1 hour, until juices are set. Serve with vanilla ice cream.