The season is winding down!
Of all our local berry fruit in Central Wisconsin, blueberries are the most user-friendly. They’re easy to pick, the season usually goes several weeks, and the berries themselves keep in the fridge for two weeks or more.
The season is past its peak, however, so if you haven’t gone out to pick, do so now—it’s hard to say how long the picking will last.
And when you do come home with a load, here’s a tip to maximize their keep time: Immediately wash the berries in a basin or clean sink with about 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar. Let the vinegar solution work its magic for a few minutes to kill off mold and other decay-speeding microbes. Then drain well, allow to dry, and store in the refrigerator. In my experience, they’ll keep fresh for two weeks or more, giving you ample time for eating, adding to a salad, and making pies and jams.
One of the most beloved traditions of the season is fresh blueberry pancakes. Which brings up the subject of homemade pancakes in general.
Maybe you’ve seen those foodie posts about “Foods You Should Make From Scatch and Never Buy.” Yeah, most of those are click-baity bogus tips. As if I’d take the time to make ketchup from scratch, even though I’m sure it’s delicious.
However, one common meal item you really should always make from scratch is pancakes. It honestly requires hardly any more time or effort than preparing a premix, and you control the ingredients.
My family is divided on whether or not the fresh blueberries should be cooked within the batter itself, or simply scattered fresh and raw atop a stack of cooked pancakes and swimming in maple syrup (I prefer the latter). But no problem! For the cooked crowd, sprinkle several fresh berries into the rounds of batter immediately after they hit the pan.
Get picking: Here are three you-pick farms in the Wausau area. Call ahead to be sure there still are berries for the picking:
• Utech’s Rainbow Farm, Merrill. 9 miles north of Wausau off CTH K. Call 715-536-7271 for updates.
• Lakeview Berry Farm, Mosinee, off CTH C near Lake Dubay. See their Facebook page or lakeviewberryfarm.com, or call 715-457-2704.
• Half Moon Hill Farm, Hamburg, on CTH A. See their Facebook page, or call 715-574-1085.
It’s easy to remember this recipe if you think in terms of “twos”: 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 2 (ish) cups milk/yogurt… plus a few other ingredients. These pancakes are much firmer and substantial than the fluffy, crumbly pancakes you find elsewhere. That’s largely because of the added protein in the yogurt. Another upside is that they keep exceptionally well as leftovers.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups milk and yogurt
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. lemon extract (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
Beat the eggs with oil, then mix in about one cup of plain yogurt and a splash of milk. Add in the flour and all other ingredients, and whisk well. The batter will be overly thick, but this is where you add more milk and/or yogurt to get the right consistency. Your liquid can be any combination of milk, yogurt and buttermilk, but at least one cup of yogurt ensures a more hearty result.
Heat the griddle well, then pour your pancakes. The griddle should be hot enough that the first side cooks quite fast. Flip when the top and edges are drying slightly and the bubbles have appeared.
For blueberry pancakes, you can mix a handful or two into the batter, or sprinkle a few on the “raw” side just after pouring.