Stewed Blueberries

by Lisa Rosen on July 7, 2010

Speaking of food memories (we were, remember?)–it’s blueberry season, which always reminds me of my maternal grandmother.  We used to stop and buy blueberries from a patch we passed on the way to the beach, and then when we got settled, she’d make stewed blueberries over biscuits.  If memory serves, that meant she heated the berries till they began to burst, then baked some Hungry Jack biscuits (the kind you buy in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, and whack the can on the edge of the counter–man, I loved those when I was a kid, the flaky ones).  You’d open a steaming hot biscuit, crusty on the edges, dough layers on the inside, and spoon the berries over.  The thin, sweet juice would soak into the biscuit, leaving the soft, pulpy berries piled on top.  It was sweet and salty and fruity and bready, but most of all, it was Grandma food.

Needless to say, I’ve tweaked my grandmother’s “formula” a little bit, because I can never leave well enough alone.  I cook the berries longer, till they’ve thickened up to be more of a compote.  And no, I try very hard NOT to serve them over Hungry Jack biscuits (although, it is possible that, having been silly enough to describe my childhood memory to my own children, I have been coerced into buying those faux biscuits once or twice).

This compote is great over pancakes or waffles (beats that stuff at IHOP all to pieces).  It’s delicious on ice cream, or as a highly fashionable garnish/puddle on the side of a fancy composed dessert (lemon meringue pie?  cinnamon-brown sugar pound cake?  an ethereal pavlova?).  It’s also nice stirred into a humble bowl of plain yogurt.

But it’s best on a steaming hot buttermilk biscuit, fresh from the oven, split and buttered.  If you’re lucky, your shoulders are sunburned and there’s sand between your toes and you’re half-starved from riding waves and chasing seagulls.

Stewed Blueberries
Makes about 2 cups of compote

1 quart fresh, sweet blueberries
a sprinkle of sugar (maybe a tablespoon)
a splash of water (maybe 2 tablespoons)

Put the berries in a colander, sorting through to pick out any wrinklies or pull off any stems.  Give them a good rinse, then pour them into a pot.  Add a splash of water and a sprinkle of sugar, put on a lid, and bring to a boil.  Don’t wander away; a blueberry boil-over is messy to clean up.

When they come to a boil, take off the lid and reduce heat to maintain a low simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until as thickened as you prefer.  If you want it soupier, add a little more water.  If you want it thicker, keep cooking (just stir every few minutes to keep it from scorching).

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa H July 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Cute story, and simple recipe, I’m washing my berries now. I moved into my first home this past fall, and my blueberry bushes are bursting. This will be perfect tonight on our sun soaked deck. Thanks again!


Lisa Rosen July 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Hi Melissa–
You have productive blueberry bushes? Lucky you! Enjoy those berries . . .
Thanks for reading!


Ruth November 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

Hi! Thanks for a very nice read!! Just wanted to tell you about my Mother In Law, from Russia, she did the blueberries almost the same, but her expression was “blumberries mit smetana”, sour cream, a dollop! In warm bowls, after a nice dinner with a “cup tea” with a lemone slice! Ah, memories, learned alot from this lady with her cooking!!! Never used a recipe, but always things turned out just delicious!!! Thanks for the “visit” with you!!!


Lisa Rosen November 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Hi Ruth–
Thanks so much for sharing your memories of your mother-in-law. I’d love to hear more–I’m fascinated by the food traditions that link seemingly disparate groups from around the world. And you can bet next summer I’ll be trying a dollop of sour cream on my berries!
Thanks for stopping by . . .


C. Carlton May 26, 2017 at 11:37 pm

My mother made what she called blueberry pastries. It is actually stewed blueberries with dumplings. We called dumplings pastries. She simply added blueberries, a little water, sugar and the dough. It was a wonderful dessert. The best part, we picked the blueberries ourselves. We worked in the blueberry fields during the summer so we always had fresh blueberries in the house.


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