Last week the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) hosted sixteen chefs in the kitchens at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus to learn how blueberries can successfully go to the savory side of the menu, especially in snacks, small plates and grab ‘n go items.
CIA chef-instructor Lars Kronmark guided the chefs through a tasting of fresh, frozen and further processed blueberries, including microwavedried, sugar-infused dried, freeze-dried and powdered. From there, the chefs went into the kitchen to work with the wide range of blueberry products and develop savory ways to use them. The recipes included Flank Steak Marinated in Lime, Garlic and Blueberry Powder with Blueberry-Chimichurri Sauce; Sausage Banh Mi with BlueberryPickled Vegetables and Blueberry Aioli; and Smoked Trout Guacamole with Blueberry-Lime Dusted Tortilla Chips.
A highlight of the event was Chef Kronmark’s demonstration of how to quick-freeze blueberry ice cream with liquid nitrogen. “Blueberry Boot Camp was an eye-opener for the chefs who discovered the potential for blueberries to add a spark to their menus,” says Mark Villata, USHBC Executive Director. “The chefs we worked with at the CIA were absolute professionals, and the quality and creativity of the food they prepared was beyond what we could have imagined.”
Villata presented information to the group about the blueberry industry, where blueberries are grown, year-round availability and other background information. Most interesting to the chefs was that highbush blueberries are grown in 32 states and that the largest producers are Michigan, Oregon, Georgia, New Jersey, Washington, California, North Carolina, Florida and Mississippi. They also learned from Karen Brux, Executive Director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, about the Chilean industry and Chile’s growing conditions which provide the U.S. with an abundant supply of high quality fresh blueberries from November and into March.