not in season: blueberry apple crisp

I was fooled at the grocery store last week. I noticed a display of pints of blueberries, on sale at a very good price. I checked the label to find out where they came from, and I was pleased to find out that they were local, from just south of here, in Winter Haven. The kids asked if we could buy the blueberries, so I said yes. They don’t always ask for fresh fruits or vegetables, so when they do, I do what I can to encourage that habit.

It was only after I got home, with several pints of blueberries in my reusable bag, that I started thinking about those berries. I went online to research our local blueberry farms, and I realized that typical harvest months are not until summer. I pulled a package of blueberries out of the refrigerator, and read it a little closer. “Product of Chile,” but distributed out of Winter Haven, the label read.

Duped. I was duped.

So, that got me thinking about the value of eating locally-grown and locally-produced foods. I try to do it whenever possible, and I feel bad when I make a mistake. Like when I find that I’ve bought blueberries imported from Chile. But does it really matter? Is it more important to eat locally-grown food – for reasons of sustainability and eco-friendliness — or is it more important to promote and encourage my children’s desire for fresh fruits and veggies?

The answer that I’ve decided on is that I’m not going to stress about it. If my kids ask for blueberries, and blueberries are in the market, then I’m going to buy blueberries for them. When our farmer’s market opens back up in the next month or so, it will be easier to shop for fresh foods harvested in this part of north Florida. Until then, feeding my children a variety of fruits and vegetables – especially if they ASK for them – wins out as most important in my book.

So, back to those Chilean berries…

A fruit crisp is a great way to showcase blueberries. I threw in some chopped apple, just for fun, and I ended up with a Blueberry Apple Crisp. It feels like a lighter dessert than pie, but to me, it’s just as satisfying. I like mine plain, warm out of the oven, but this crisp would be just as wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream served in the same bowl.

Yield: Serves 4-6.

Blueberry Apple Crisp

This is a simple fruit dessert that is satisfying when eaten by itself, or you can jazz it up by serving it warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.


2 cups blueberries
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375°F. Make filling: In a bowl, combine blueberries, chopped apple, light brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon zest and juice. Toss together and set aside.

Make topping: Stir together flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter pieces, and toss to coat with the dry ingredients. Using fingertips, pinch pieces of butter together with the flour and sugar mixture; it should resemble crumbly, wet sand when completely blended. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, or in the freezer for 7 to 8 minutes.

Add fruit filling to a 9-inch pie plate. Spread chilled topping evenly over the filling. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes prior to serving.

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25 Responses to “not in season: blueberry apple crisp”

  1. 1
    Lana — February 13, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

    Just like you, I try to cook with locally grown produce as much as I can (when I had a garden, it was heaven!), but the most important thing to me is how it tastes. It could be grown in my neighbor’s yard, organically, coddled and caressed every day, if it tastes bland – it’s out.
    I know that I can not find wild blueberries here in SoCal, and those are really the best – nothing can come even close. But I agree, when my kids ask for fruit and veggies, I indulge them.
    I have never made a crisp, or a cobbler, or a fool, even though I really like warm fruity desserts that are easy to make. Maybe yours is going to inspire me enough (I’ll just have to double up on those crunches:)
    Have a great Valentine’s Day!

    • 1.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 13, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

      Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Lana!

  2. 2
    Leigh — February 13, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

    Honestly, I care more about having what I want in ANY season than I do about where they were grown. That may be terrible, but I adore cooking with exotic ingredients that we just don’t HAVE around here. That being said, the Plant City strawberries that M picked up yesterday are already almost all gone. So I think it’s a balance. A delicious balance. 😉

    • 2.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 13, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

      That reminds me, I need to buy strawberries. 🙂

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  4. 3
    Jean — February 13, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    I love, love blueberries and I love using them in crisps like you do. I also like that you mixed in apples, another crisp favorite for me. Honestly, I don’t always have time to go to the Farmer’s Market on Sundays so I would say that some of my produce is not locally grown. I don’t mind it either.

    • 3.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 13, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

      I hear you on the time issue. Our Farmer’s Market is open on Mondays from 4-7, but if you don’t get there early, all the good stuff is gone. I can rarely get their before 6:30. Sometimes the grocery store is the only option.

  5. 4
    Kim - Liv Life — February 13, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

    We try to buy local as well, but sometimes those berries just call our name. We are indeed lucky to be able to procure these out of season fruits just for that reason, and you used them well! We found some beautiful organic berries a few weeks back at Costco, and yes, ours were from Chile too. But I bought tons of them and have filled my freezer with zip bags of organic berries. Enjoy!

    • 4.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 13, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

      It’s hard to pass up a good deal in these days when we all need to stretch our dollars further. I think that buying in bulk – at Costco or somewhere similar – and freezing makes good sense. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — February 13, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    Don’t worry, Love… we’ve all done the same thing. And it looks like you made the most of the situation with this terrific recipe. Such a comforting dish!

  7. 6

    What a perfect winter dessert! I do love locally grown produce but it is nice that Chili provides an alternative to get wonderful fruits and veggies when ours are not yet in season.

  8. 7
    Carrie Suvajdzic — February 14, 2011 @ 4:56 am

    Oh man that looks good! I love blueberries and can’t get those big sweet ones here where I am. I agree, too, that encouraging good eating habits in your kids takes precedence over a LOT of things.

    For me eating local is all about having a really big freezer and stocking up in season. You have to be on your toes during the growing season but it’s a lot cheaper that way. So when you go buy strawberries buy enough to last until next spring!

  9. 8
    Jason Phelps — February 14, 2011 @ 7:31 am

    I would have been mad as well. Luckily we had berries leftover from last year’s winemaking in the freezer. I used them a couple of times over the weekend. Made me yearn for fresh ones!


  10. 9
    Valerie Riley — February 14, 2011 @ 8:32 am

    I want to try this recipe. We are huge blueberry fans! Brent’s dad owns an organic u-pick blueberry farm in Melrose. It is a great family atmosphere and my kids love going. I will let you know when it is time and perhaps you can join us out there for picking? We usually pick enough for the year. I am down to about 5lbs left, so it can’t get here fast enough for me! They usualy open Memorial Day. Thanks for this recipe! -V

  11. 10
    Jaclyn — February 14, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

    i hate getting fooled at the farmer’s market! i try to buy local produce from the farmer’s market, so it’s definitely a bit dissapointing to find out that what you thought was grown a few miles away was actually flown in. bummer indeed.

    but on the plus side, fruit crisps are probably the simplest, most delicious delivery system for fruit in the whole world! i love mine with lots and lots of freshly whipped cream on top.

  12. 11
    DessertForTwo — February 14, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    I agree, I think you made the right call. If kids are reaching for antioxidant-rich blueberries, give ’em what they want. Maybe you could buy extra blueberries this summer and freeze them for future use? Sounds like a win-win situation!

  13. 12
    Lael Hazan @educatedpalate — February 15, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    Lovely dish and thought provoking post. Do we buy organic broccoli that has been harvested 10,000 miles away or do we buy from the conventional farm across the road? Difficult choices, at least we are thinking about them. It becomes even more daunting when we realize that some producers, i.e.: disreputable olive oils, will grow their product in one country and produce it in another.

  14. 13
    Aggie — February 15, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    I buy those “winter haven” blueberries all the time! I have to go relook at my container Merry!!

    What a beautiful dessert. I can’t ever get enough blueberries. We are eating them like crazy lately since they have been on sale. We dipped them in chocolate last night, YUM!

  15. 14
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — February 17, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    I have pondered the same question… Living where I do in PA, there’s very little available between November and March that is fresh or local. Around this time of year, I usually get sick of eating out of the freezer and start to crave fresh fruits and veggies. Just last week, I bought some strawberries and blueberries that I knew weren’t local, but I just needed some fresh fruit. I do my best to eat local as much as I can, but sometimes I just have to let it go.

    This blueberry apple crisp looks wonderful! Now I’m wishing that I still had some of those blueberries from last week hanging around. 🙂

    • 14.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 17, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

      Jen – Sometimes we just have to give in to the beauty that lives in the produce section, right? Miss you!

  16. 15
    Joy — February 17, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

    That looks wonderful. I love love blueberries.

    • 15.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — February 17, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

      Thanks, Joy!

  17. 16
    Lucy — February 18, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I wouldn’t stress about those blueberries, either. And I’d buy a second pint to make blueberry scones. Love this crisp – I always have vanilla yogurt on hand, so I’d put a spoonful of yogurt on top.

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  19. 17
    Beth — December 20, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

    Topping recipe is missing. Punted from your seasonal crisp topping recipe.

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