Archive | August, 2011

Recipes with Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Our farm is overflowing with blueberries!  The six-hundred plants have enjoyed the milder winters of the last couple of years along with the abundance of rain (the rain is more acid than irrigation water and the blueberries love this).

So, our kitchen is bustling with creative ways to use the blueberries.  We’re making blueberry jams, blueberry jellies, blueberry syrups, blueberry shrubs, and now…….Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce


After tinkering with 6-7 recipes online, I’ve come up with one that I personally love and have brought it to market(s).  Here are a couple of recipes that the sauce goes well with.  You could certainly interchange your favorite BBQ sauce with any of these, but I will attest they are wonderful with the Blueberry BBQ Sauce.





 Blueberry Bourbon Glazed Ribs

  • 1 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt (or use your own favorite rub)
  • 4 lb. meaty baby back ribs or 2-3 lbs boneless country-style ribs
  • Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees & position racks in upper and lower third of oven
  2. In small bowl, whisk together garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and salt.  Set ribs on rimmed baking sheets and rub with the spice rub.
  3. Cover with foil and roast for 1 1/2 hours, until tender, switching pans halfway through.  Remove ribs from oven and pour off the liquid in the pans
  4. Increase heat to 375 degrees (can also use broil).  Working with one sheet of ribs at a time, brush the underside of each rack with some glaze and bake or broil until browned.  Flip the ribs and repeat on the other side.  Transfer baking sheet to bottom shelf of oven.  Repeat with remaining ribs.
  5. Transfer ribs to work surface and slice between the bones. Mound the ribs on a platter and pass the remaining glaze at the table
  6. Serve with a rich berry-scented red wine.

 Grilled Steaks with Blueberry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

    • T. chopped fresh thyme
    • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
    • 1 pound steak (like filet mignon), 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 portions



  1. Preheat grill to high
  2. Combine thyme, oil, salt and pepper in small bowl.  Rub mixture on all sides of steaks.  Grill the steaks 3-5 min. per side for medium-rare.  Let steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving with the sauce on the side.

Grilled Salmon with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

    • 4 (6-oz) salmon steaks
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • sea salt, to taste
    • ground black pepper, to taste



  1. Preheat grill or broiler to medium high heat
  2. Brush salmon with oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3.  Grill or broil until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  4. Serve with blueberry sauce.

Making Fruit Syrups & Shrubs for Refreshing Summer Drinks & Cocktails


Blueberry Shrub Vodka Martini

Blueberry Shrub Vodka Martini

Our farm is small (23 acres), but it is amazing the amount of small fruit that you can grow on that amount of land. We started with blueberries 12 years ago, and have been adding various new fruits every year. Some have not worked out too well (kiwis, saskatoons, blackberries), but what we grow now through survival of the fittest includes currants, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, chokecherries, gooseberries, sour cherries, rhubarb, and heirloom tomatoes.

I love, love fruit and love working with fruit. There is so much versatility in what you can do with fruit — I sometimes feel as if I’m racing against time to try all of the ideas I run across or dream up. I wondered the other day if the term “creative Juices” originated from someone who was working with fruit?

Anyway, the obsession with this year’s fruit is making beverage syrups. I got one of those wonderful SodaStream Genesis makers that are so popular in Europe and started adding fruit syrups to the carbonated water it makes. Made me feel ever so tres chic I must admit, but it happened to be incredibly good also. Stepping it up a notch from carbonated water and into the cocktail realm was even better. My cocktails of choice for the syrups include champagne cocktails & mojitos . If you’re into the mixology scene you can go wild with imaginative drinks. For me, my soda stream, a lemonade, iced tea, and an occasional “Blueberry Rumba” is making this hot, humid summer bearable.

One other interesting drink that’s surprisingly refreshing is an old-fashioned “berry shrub”. A shrub is essentially a fruit syrup drink with vinegar added. Sound weird? It was a very popular drink in the colonial era when refrigeration wasn’t available and vinegar could act as a preservative. It also provided the acidity to a drink when fresh citrus wasn’t available and offered the taste of summer in those bleak winters. The fruit and sugar really mellow out the vinegar taste and it’s really quite wonderful.

Here are the recipes for Blueberry Syrup and Blueberry Shrub followed by some drink recipes of how to use them:

Blueberry Tarragon Syrup:

juicing the berries


1) Juice the blueberries by simmering in a large pot over med-low heat with 1/4 cup water until they are soft and the juices run (about 15 min.).  You’ll get about 1 cup of juice for every 2 cups berries

straining the juice

2) Strain the juice through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.  A piece of nylon tulle placed in a strainer works as well as cheesecloth and doesn’t take as long. If you want the juice to be perfectly clear (as you would for a jelly), don’t push the pulp through the strainer. I don’t think clarity matters with a syrup, so I would push as much juice through the strainer as possible to get the maximum juice from your berries. (in our kitchen we use a commercial juicer that we ordered from Sweden)

3) Measure the juice and for every cup of juice measure equal amounts of cups of pure cane sugar. Many syrup companies use corn syrup as a thickener. You don’t need a thick syrup for beverages. If you want to make a thick pancake syrup, you can add a little pectin when you boil it up.

*note: commercial pectin is not an unhealthy additive; it is only dried citrus rind/pith or apple, standardized by testing the rind and adding enough sugar to the pectin so it works the same each application. Much worse to add corn syrup in my mind.

infusing the herbs


4)  Tie some sprigs of fresh tarragon (mint is also good) in a cheesecloth bag (around a cup of tarragon for every 4-6 cups of juice). Pour the juice into a large pot and add the bag of tarragon. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the tarragon infuse into the juice for about 20 minutes.

add to sparkling water and enjoy!


5) Remove the tarragon, add the sugar to the pot and bring to a boil, slowly, making sure all of the sugar is dissolved.  I usually add some fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice at this point, but it is optional.

6) Ladle into jars or bottles using a funnel; let cool and then refrigerate.  Stir in, to taste, to your favorite beverages


Basic Berry Shrub Recipe:

Combine 1 part apple cider vinegar, and 1 part pure cane sugar to 2 parts berries (or any kind of fruit). Bring ingredients to a slow boil, to dissolve the sugar. Stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain into a glass bottle. This is the quick way to make a shrub syrup. When we make them for market we let the berries steep in the sugar in the refrigerator for 3 days, strain, add vinegar and cover. It’s a little more complex that way, but the quick way is fine.

*Update:  for another shrub recipe using plums, cinnamon & orange zest, please see a new guest post that I put up over at Soda Stream’s blog, called Ms Fizz

Adding to carbonated water, lemonade, sparkling wine drinks:

The question I always get at markets is how much to use, and well……that depends really on how sweet you like your drink, which berry syrup you’re using, and what kind of drink you’re flavoring. With a glass of lemonade or sparkling wine I would probably add 2-3 Tablespoons of the Blueberry Tarragon Syrup. In carbonated water or mineral water I might add more to get a higher flavor profile.

By the way, these syrups are also great drizzled over fruit salads, pound cake, ice cream, or used with vinegar in a salad dressing. OK, here’s the cocktail recipes I promised:

Good Summer Cocktails with the Syrups:
Cabana Shrub
• 1-1/2 oz. white rum
• 1 oz. Blueberry Shrub Syrup
• 1/8 oz. lime juice
• 1 oz. Ginger Ale
Technique: Build in a short ice-filled glass. Top with ginger ale. Add garnish.

Blueberry Rumba Cocktail:
• 1 oz white rum
• 1/2 oz dark rum
• 1/4 oz triple sec
• 14 oz blue Curacao liqueur
• 3/4 oz blueberry syrup
• 2 oz. pineapple juice
• 2 oz lemonade
Technique: Shake liquors, syrup & juice in a shaker and strain into an ice-filled glass. Add lemonade.

R & B Cocktail
• 1 1/2 oz Gin
• 3/4 oz Blueberry Shrub
• 1/2 oz Lillet (this is an aperitif wine which blends Bordeaux wines and citrus – you can substitute white vermouth if you like)
• dash of orange bitters
Technique: Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass


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