Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Blues - Blueberries, Huckleberries, Whortleberries

Although botanically different, the three berries were often used interchangeably by cooks, as seen in the following recipes. The White House Cookbook of 1887 used huckleberries in the title, then blueberries in the ingredients. Other recipes...

For the recipe "Elkridge Huckleberry Pudding," Elizabeth Ellicott Lea from Maryland used the term whortleberry in the first edition, 1845, but huckleberry in the 1846 and 1851 editions. When I make her delicious pudding [actually a sponge cake] recipe, below, I use frozen wild smaller blueberries.

For more recipes go to my website page at: Recipe of the Month - Blueberries, Huckleberries, Whortleberries

Whortleberries are good both in flour and Indian puddings. A pint of milk, with a little salt and a little molasses, stirred quite stiff with Indian meal, and a quart of berries stirred in gradually with a spoon, makes a good-sized pudding. Leave room for it to swell; and let it boil three hours.When you put them into flour, make your pudding just like batter-puddings; but considerably thicker, or the berries will sink. Two hours is plenty long enough to boil. No pudding should be put in till the water boils. Leave room to swell.
Child, Lydia Maria. The Frugal Housewife. Boston: 1830

Take six ounces of fine flour, a little salt, and three eggs; beat up well with a little milk, added by degrees till the batter is quite smooth; make it the thickness of cream; put into a buttered pie-dish, and bake three quarters of an hour; or in a buttered and floured basin, tied over tight with a cloth: boil one hour and a half, or two hours.
Any kind of ripe fruit that you like may be added to the batter,--only you must make the batter a little stiffer. Blueberries or finely chopped apple are most usually liked.
Hale, Sarah. The Good Housekeeper. Boston: 1839.

One pound of flour, one of light-brown sugar, eight eggs—beat as sponge cake, and add one quart of berries, nicely picked, washed, and allowed to dry; bake as sponge cake. This may be served with sauce, either hot or cold.
Lea, Elizabeth Ellicott. Domestic Cookery. Baltimore: 1846

BLUEBERRIES. [Canning](No. 1.)
The worst part of the work is the picking over, which requires a great deal of patience. After picking wash well and fill in glass jars. I do not mean to just fill, you must jam them in as tight as possible, using a potato beetle or some other wooden tool to squeeze in the berries, no matter if they are bruised. Fill to the brim, clap on the rubbers, then screw on the lid. When you have all the jars filled, set in a wash boiler, which has been lined with hay and pack between the jars also. Fill jars almost to the neck with cold water,then set on to boil, and boil about fifteen minutes from the time it begins to boil. Lift the boiler from the fire and let the jars remain in the boiler until cold. Now examine each jar closely, screw tighter and examine every other day for a week, always screwing tighter. Add sugar when you intend to use them. They are equal to fresh berries, especially for compote.
"Aunt Babette's" Cook Book. Cincinnati: 1889

Pick over a quart of huckleberries or blueberries, wash them and set to boil. Do not add any water to them. Sweeten with half a cup of sugar, and spice with half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Just before removing from the fire, add a teaspoon of cornstarch which has been wet with a little cold water. Do this thoroughly in a cup and stir with a teaspoon so as not to have any lumps in it. Pour into a glass bowl. Eat cold.
Greenbaum, Florence Kreisler. The International Jewish Cook Book... New York: 1919

Pick over carefully one quart of blueberries, and keep them on ice until wanted. Put into each bowl, for each guest, two soda-crackers, broken in not too small pieces; add a few tablespoonfuls of berries, a teaspoonful of powdered sugar, and fill the bowl with the richest of cold, sweet cream. This is an old-fashioned New England breakfast dish. It also answers for a dessert.
Gillette, Fanny Lemira. The White House Cookbook. Chicago: 1887

Painting closeup of Albert Fitch Bellow's Blueberry Pickers 1864

©2010 Patricia Bixler Reber

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