Bursting With Blueberries
Fill Your Menu to the Brim with this Versatile Delight
July is Blueberry Month! This striking snack is fresh and plentiful this time of year, calling people across America to you-pick fields and grocery store shelves to satisfy their seasonal fruit cravings. It’s easy to miss this rush, as an operator — people don’t naturally think of restaurants when they think of blueberries. They can think of your restaurant, though — and flock to it accordingly — if you make blueberries an unmistakable feature of your menu. To do this, take advantage of the secret versatility of blueberries, and deploy recipes for them in all their forms.
Fancy Fresh Fruit
Fresh blueberries aren’t just for snack bowls — you can put them in a variety of restaurant-worthy dishes, which take advantage of the fruit at its brightest and most juicy. Mix blueberries and slivered almonds in with your greens and dressing of choice, for an exciting pop-and-crunch twist on your favorite salad. Add them to appetizer plates and charcuterie boards: blueberries pair well with cured meats like bacon and prosciutto, and also with brie and goat cheese. If you serve diners with adventurous tastes, you can even match blueberries with blue cheese! It’s an eye-catching combo on the menu, and an intriguing taste experience. Last but not least, fresh blueberries make fantastic garnish. Drop a few onto vanilla ice cream, or anything else complimented by the blue color and bursts of sweet and tart. It’s a way to make simple dishes seasonal and memorable, and all it takes is a sprinkle of fruit at the end of meal prep.
Baking with Blueberries
Blueberries have another traditional home in the kitchen — in baked goods — that restaurants can take on with ease. If you offer breakfast on the menu, blueberry pancakes are an effortless winner. Just mix blueberries into your normal batter before cooking. That’s it! Blueberry muffins and blueberry bread are classics for any cafe space, and shouldn’t take extra equipment if you’re already making other muffin or bread types (or extra display equipment if you’re ordering your baked goods). For restaurants looking for desserts, try the blueberry cobbler. It holds a similar appeal to the blueberry pie, but can more easily be cut to serving size. Before trying any of these options, take this tip: small blueberries make for the easiest baking. Large ones can be watery enough to throw off your ingredient ratios, or to leave collapsing pockets in your baked goods. Using frozen blueberries can also help. More on that later!
Fruit, Meet Meat
One of the more surprising ways to add blueberries to your menu is by linking them up with meat. If your meat dish has a sweet element, chances are you can make a variation that uses blueberries to provide that sweetness (as well as tartness, pop, and color). Cooks often use strawberries or grapes to enhance their chicken salad, so add blueberries to that roster while they’re on people’s mind. Make delicious blueberry barbecue by adding fresh or frozen blueberries to your signature sweet barbecue sauce, as it cooks down. Reinvent the classic grilled ham and cheese by nestling blueberries in the sandwich before putting it on the grill or in the press. Make sure to serve the sandwich sliced, to wow your diners — the only thing better than a cross section filled with gooey cheese is one filled with gooey, sweet blueberries, too.
Take advantage of blueberries’ fierce color, by making them key ingredients in impressive drinks. You can’t go wrong with blueberry smoothies, which are easy to make and easy to customize (add fruits like mango, herbs like lavender, and switch effectively between dairy and non-dairy depending on your customers’ needs). Blueberry lemonade is another great option. Muddle some blueberries into your standard lemonade to produce a nice pink-purple color, then stir in a few whole ones to complete the look. For cocktails, look no further than the Blueberry Honey Bee, from the food blog Pretty in Pistachio. This rum, honey, lemon, and blueberry mixed drink comes out a brilliant purple color that’ll have customers tables over asking for “what they’re having.”
Once frozen, blueberries won’t rethaw to their fresh state — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t precious in their new form. Cook them slowly with sugar and cornstarch, then save the resulting sauce for topping breakfasts or desserts. Use them in baking: the slight delay in cooking makes them hold their shape better than fresh blueberries, while still coming out gooey by the time the recipe’s done. They’re also sturdier to work with if you want to roll them in flour (another baking trick to cut down on sogginess and sinking). For a beautiful dessert that’ll use them straight out of the freezer, try snowberries. Pour a bowl of frozen blueberries, then a splash of your best milk, then a sprinkle of sugar. The milk and sugar stick to the berries, creating a taste, texture, and temperature sensation your patrons won’t soon forget.
At Florida Food Service, we have all the ingredients for your success — including blueberries! Take advantage of the season by trying the fruit throughout your menu, in all its versatile glory. Contact your sales rep today.