Today is all about bees and blueberries. I know it might be an unusual combination, but I hope to shed some light on this pairing. I also want to teach you how to make an equally odd (yet insanely delicious) dessert called Wild Blueberry Grunt. We’re #LiveFromTheHive!
Back in early June, the lovely folks at Wyman’s of Maine invited me and several other bloggers to attend the first-ever Honey Bee Summit on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Why PEI? Well, Wyman’s has thousands of acres of wild blueberries growing on PEI and in New Brunswick, Canada.
Wyman’s specifically brought us to their wild blueberry fields this time of year because things are buzzing. Literally. This is where the bees come in. Honey bees are critical to the growth of the wild blueberries. In fact, honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the nation’s produce. Crazy, right? What this means is that if there are no bees, there are no berries.
These bees are so critical to the wild blueberries that Wyman’s has its own professional beekeeper on site who manages and cares for hives of bees. In addition to these hives and native bee populations, Wyman’s also brings in a mixture of bumblebees and honey bees to their fields to ensure all of the blossoms are pollinated to produce as many berries as possible.
While I knew that bees are important, I didn’t fully realize just how important they are until visiting the fields.
As part of the Wyman’s Honey Bee Summit, my fellow bloggers and I dressed up in bee suits and were given a full tour of the wild blueberry fields. We also had a chance to visit the resident bee hives to learn more about them and their important work.
Seeing and hearing the bees up close was such and wonderful and surreal experience. We even got to sample honey fresh from the hive. Talk about delicious.
Those marks in the honeycomb above are where we sampled the fresh honey. The beekeeper said the honeybees would have the comb “repaired” by the following day. Unreal!
I was also intrigued by the wild blueberry fields. While these fields have been cleared of trees, weeds, and other vegetation, the wild blueberry bushes grow naturally without humans planting them.
You also might be wondering if there is a difference between wild and “cultivated” blueberries. Yes. Wild blueberries are smaller. They taste both sweet and tart and actually have a more intense flavor.
The other great thing about Wyman’s wild blueberries is that they are always sold frozen, making them available year round. Wyman’s uses a method called Individual Quick Frozen. The berries are frozen within 24 hours of harvest which locks in the flavor. A Wyman’s blueberry thawed and served will taste as fresh as the day it was picked. Plus, frozen fruits boast the same health benefits (antioxidants, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid) as fresh. Win-win, friends!
So, now that you know the connection between berries and bees, I thought it would be only fitting to create a delicious blueberry recipe in celebration of the bee’s hard work.
While visiting PEI, we bloggers stayed at The Inn at Bay Fortune. This place is incredible. (So wonderful that I’m hoping to put together another post just to talk about it.) If you’re ever on PEI, be sure to book a night there or at least make a reservation to dine at FireWorks. We had most of our meals at FireWorks. While picking a favorite dish is impossible, I was especially taken by the dessert we had one evening: Wild Blueberry Grunt.
Never heard of a grunt? Me either. I found out that it’s an old-fashioned, traditional dessert from Nova Scotia. Small balls of dough are spooned onto a shallow bowl of wild blueberries. Topped with a lid, the sweet dumplings are steamed to perfection. I’ve been told that as the dumplings steam, the juices work through them and they make a “grunting” noise. Hence, the name. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this dessert seems familiar, but its unique cooking method puts it in a category all its own.
Since it’s an older recipe, this dish is very simple to make and can probably be put together with items you already have in your fridge and pantry. No new-fangled ingredients are required.
There are a few different ways to make grunt. However, I followed the directions from FireWorks where the whole dumpling is submerged into the blueberry goodness, rather than just resting on top. Because of this, you might have a little extra blueberry juice and berries. No worries, though. The extra berries and juice make a delicious topping for ice cream or a great base for cocktails.
Okay, enough talk. Let’s get steaming.
Here's what you will need:
6 cups (2 - 15-ounce bags) Wyman's of Maine Wild Blueberries
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
Vanilla ice cream for serving
In a large cast iron pot, add the blueberries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat.
In the meantime, prepare your dumpling dough but whisking together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the dry mixture. Then, stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together.
When the blueberry mixture is at a low boil, turn the heat to low. Spoon and submerge the dough into the blueberry mixture. (Each dumpling should be about 1x2 inches, yielding about 16 dumplings.) Cover with a lid and cook over low heat until the dough is cooked. About 15 minutes.
Serve the dumplings with the blueberries and sauce spooned over top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Pretty amazing, right?
Naturally, the intense sweet and tart flavors from the Wyman’s wild blueberries, give this dessert incredible flavor.
Granted it’s not the most elegant looking dessert, but I love it just the same. In fact, I probably love it even more because it looks beautifully homemade and tastes out-of-this-world.
My favorite part is that while the dumpling looks mostly blue from the outside, when you cut in, you see this gorgeous white fluffy dough.
So good. You need to give this a try.
And that, my friends, concludes today’s lesson on bees, blueberries, and grunts. I hope you learned a little something.
And remember, bees are our friends. No bees = No berries.
If you give this recipe a try, be sure to let us know what you think. Enjoy!