Wild Blueberry Pie: a camp summer tradition

wild blueberry pie via@kingarthurflourI’m up early here at our summer camp, because it’s going to be a busy day. Company’s coming, and I need to get some baking done, but first I’m going for a swim. Couple of miles, past the islands, around to the right, along the shore and back.

wild blueberry pie via@kingarthurflour

These are not, as I stated, blueberry flowers. They’re sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), growing next to and through the blueberry bush. The flowers are toxic, so don’t even think about decorating your plate with them!

Then it’s into the kayak with my buckets. There’s plenty of picking to do. When I get back, I’m making a wild blueberry pie.I’ve been watching the bushes since early June, when they started flowering.

wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflourJust a few feet farther along the shore, facing south, the bushes are giving birth to little baby blueberries. I’ll be spending a couple of hours today capturing Mother Nature’s gifts.

wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflourI have an old fitted bed sheet that I’ve cut in half; one of the gathered corners goes over the front of the kayak’s cutout. The empty berry containers from the store are important; it’s good to have something with a lid on it so the berries don’t spill inside the boat.

wild blueberry pie via@kingarthurflourAs I paddle along the shoreline (I have about 20 favorite picking spots around the lake’s edge), the berries look almost like little blue clouds among the greenery. Lucky for me, the bushes overhang the water, and it’s simple to paddle underneath.wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflour Ohhhhhh, yesssss. Time to get in there and start picking.

wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflourI could do this for hours – and I have. It isn’t a job for the squeamish. There are bugs, beavers, wakes from the occasional water skier going by – and once, a fisher cat looking me right in the eye from four feet away. A good morning’s work, though messy…

wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflour…will land you a lapful of blueberries to take home. Wild blueberry pie isn’t far away now.

wild blueberry pie  via@kingarthurflourBack at camp, I wash and sort everything; I keep a stash of pie crust dough in the freezer at the ready, and I took it out last night and stuck it in the fridge, in preparation for its big moment.

This is the Blueberry Pie recipe I use, with a slight modification: I don’t put any cinnamon in it. Instead, I add about five or six scrapes of fresh nutmeg. Only fresh will do; it has a citrus-y note to it that complements the lemon juice perfectly.

wild blueberry pie via@kingarthurflourOur stove at camp is an early 1960s vintage GE, complete with push-button controls, but it works just fine, as you can see.

Just hours after picking those fresh berries, they’ve become a bubbling-hot blueberry pie. It’s an unqualified hit with my family – in fact, my nieces are celebrating with some singing around the table.

wild blueberry pie via@kingarthurflourThe best kind of summer day, in my opinion, is this: foraging, good food, family, and wild blueberry pie.

Please share your favorite summer meal memory with us!

Susan Reid
About

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.

comments

  1. Liz

    Wonderful post and beautiful photos, Susan. We live in Maine near a U-pick farm with cultivated high bush blueberries. There is something zen-like about the experience of picking those berries. And nothing beats a summer blueberry pie, or blueberry crisp, or having a bag of those berries in the freezer to take out in winter for a treat and memory of summer. Your pie looks delicious!

    Reply
  2. MTehomilic32

    My blueberry picking story is a bit different. When my parents moved out to Long Island, New York from the Bronx in 1952, we moved to West Babylon just off of Route 109. It was just beginning to build up but still was quite rural. The town had planted blueberry bushes all along Rte 109. My Mom who just died last year…almost 92…would take me and my younger brother to pick the blueberries! We would then have them on our cereal and we attempted to make a pie….as I reminisce, I am laughing because my mother never lived down our first, second, and third attempt to make a blueberry pie!! She may have been Italian but she was not born with the cooking gene!!! Every time we tried the sugar always separated and fell to the bottom of the pie…and became 3/4 of an inch of blueberry flavored hard sugar candy….which we fought over. The pie looked horrible but at that time we were just grateful for free blueberries!!!

    Monica

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sometimes baking failures are more memorable and more fun to re-live than baking successes! It sounds like blueberry pie transports you to another time that is filled with hard but sweet blueberry sugar and lots of smiling family members. Thanks for sharing your story–we hope you give this recipe a try! Kye@KAF

  3. thebeemus3201

    Can I make this with Wymans frozen Maine blueberries? If so,how?
    Yes you can make this recipes with frozen blueberries. Make the crust per the recipe and roll out. You would need 8 cups of frozen berries. Then add the balance of the filling ingredients and mix together. Assemble pie and bake. Follow the recipe as if you were using fresh berries. Hope this helps. JoAnn@KAF

    Reply
  4. John Patterson

    I think the pink flowers debated above are sheep laurel or “lamb kill” that also like damp places as along a pond shore.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid, post author

      I’m going to have to do some more homework with some plant books. We have mountain laurel, for sure, another shrub that has long flower clusters in a waterfall sort of configuration (small white flowers, long oval leaves that don’t have as deep serrations), the blueberry bushes, swamp maples, pine, spruce, hemlocks, birch, and oak trees. There’s a lot to look at on the water! Yesterday I saw the loon fishing, there’s a bald eagle nest in the area, and geese, mergansers, ducks… the place is lousy with all things wild and wonderful!

  5. Michelle

    I don’t live in the New England area but I would love to know the recipe you used to make your delicious pie? I would love to try it! Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We think all bakers should have access to the delicious bliss that is this pie, even non-New Englanders! Here is the link for our Blue Ribbon Blueberry pie recipe: http://bit.ly/1Sxg0C8 You can usually find the recipes that our blogs feature by clicking on the orange links underneath the top most photo. I hope this helps you on your way to making a wild berry pie! Kye@KAF

  6. member-laurajraposa

    What a wonderful post, Susan! I cannot wait for the Maine wild blues to make their way to the south shore of Boston. Love, love, LOVE!

    Reply

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