The Shopper Kitchen: Enjoying Georgia’s No. 1 fruit

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By ANGELA MCRAE, The Shopper Kitchen

Not long ago, something prompted me to rank my favorite fruits, and that was a challenge. My list looked something like this: mangoes, watermelon, blueberries, grapes, peaches, pineapple, apples, cranberries, oranges and bananas. Now mangoes are a little exotic, and cranberries don’t grow in the South, so that leaves me with eight other favorites, and blueberries are high on the list.

In recent years, I’ve been delighted to learn that blueberries are now considered a “superfood.” An article on Webmd.com says, “Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.”

And while Georgia continues to be known as the Peach State, I’m still surprised that blueberries are actually the number one fruit produced here. According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, “Yep, they beat the peach with 18,328 acres producing 39 million pounds of blueberries valued at over $120 million.” Impressive!

I like to eat blueberries straight off the bush, and I also enjoy baking with them and watching these sweet little super fruits burst into purple goodness in cobblers, muffins and even cookies. I usually end up with more blueberries than we can eat at my house, so I freeze them and enjoy cooking with them all year long.

The sunny combination of blueberries and lemon is a favorite, and one of the recipes in my files is a sweet bread that I first made years ago. It features the goodness of fresh blueberries and a light lemon glaze that is the perfect topping for this easy summertime sweet.

Blueberry-Lemon Loaf

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) container plain yogurt
1 teaspoon each of vanilla and lemon extracts
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, mix yogurt, extracts and lemon zest.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add one-third of the flour mixture, beat, then add one-third of the yogurt mixture and beat. Repeat twice more until both mixtures have been added. Finally, gently stir in the blueberries with a spatula. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake for about an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before removing loaf. Yields 1 loaf.

Lemon Glaze: Combine one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and just enough confectioners’ sugar to make an icing of drizzling consistency (about 3 tablespoons). Combine well, then drizzle in a thin stream over cooled loaf.

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