Grow Local: Schartner Farms Blueberries
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I spoke with Rich Schartner, the third generation to run the farm, about how, like many farms in the state, Schartner began as a dairy farm. Two of his father’s uncles began on some rented land in Saunderstown, then in the 1930’s they leased to own the current 85 acres in Exeter, delivering bottled milk around the area. When the costs of pasteurization became too high for small dairies to afford, the farm was turned into a wholesale vegetable farm in the late 60’s and Rich’s Dad purchased the farm. The roadside shack, right on one of the main thoroughfares to South County, soon grew into greenhouses and a farm stand. It’s now really almost a full market, with tons of local RI goods for sale alongside all the Schartner produce.
The beauty of blueberries
When I asked Rich about their blueberries he jumped right into how the fruit is the #1 antioxidant. They harvest blueberries at Schartner’s from early July through mid-September and have a very successful pick-your-own field.
In addition to their store, Schartner Farms can be found at several of the weekly farmers markets. I highly recommend going to the farm and picking your own blueberries. It’s a fun experience, especially if you bring children, and it’s really pretty to see the many shades of blue that the berry goes through from unripe white to its almost dark indigo final hue. Maybe it’s not truly blue, but I’d consider it the only really blue food--and don’t forget those antioxidants!
This week’s recipe, a blueberry buckle, is something I thought was made up by my wife’s family in Maine. What the heck is buckle? Then one day I was watching “Good Eats” and Alton Brown made a blueberry buckle. So this recipe is my amalgamation of down-home Maine baking and Mr. Brown.
Unsalted butter for preparing baking dish
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t kosher salt
½ t ground ginger
4 T unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup whole milk
1 lb. blueberries
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ t freshly ground nutmeg
4 T unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the inside of a 9”x9” baking dish.
In a bowl combine 2 cups of flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger.
With an electric mixer, beat together 4 Tbs butter and ¾ cup of sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add half of the flour/ginger mixture and beat on low speed just until combined and then add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mix and milk. Lightly stir in the blueberries and pour the batter into the baking dish.
In another bowl combine the remaining sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients with a fork to make a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the batter. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool before serving.
Schartner Farms, 1 Arnold Place, Exeter, 294-2044
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