Back at the end of June we went out to pick the last of the juneberries– there were masses of them, dark purple and heavy on the tree, so we filled our bucket and decided to freeze them for future use. After washing them and picking out the stems, I spread them in a single layer on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and froze them overnight. Then it was time to decide what to do with them!
We decided on muffins, figuring that we could treat the juneberries much like blueberries, and went with the Cook’s Illustrated “Best Blueberry Muffins” recipe, which involves a combination of fresh berries and berry compote. Since we already had a stash of juneberry jam we used that instead of the compote. You can use blueberries instead!
The muffins baked up nice and tall, with a light and fluffy interior, but I admit that they were too sweet for me– juneberries appear to be much sweeter than blueberries once cooked, with very little tang left. That being said, juneberry seeds have a subtle almond flavor that really perfumed the whole muffin as it baked, which was a nice surprise as I bit into the warm muffin. I think that in the future I would pick less-ripe juneberries for use in muffins, leaving the riper ones for eating out of hand or putting into jam (where I could add lemon juice to counteract the sweetness).
The muffin itself was lovely– I thought that the crumb would be too sweet in light of the higher amount of sugar than I’m used to (1 1/8 cups rather than the 3/4 that I usually go with), but it seemed fine when eaten without the berries. I’ll definitely use this recipe again when I get some blueberries to use!
Juneberry (or blueberry) Muffins (from Cook’s Illustrated)
- 2 cups fresh berries
- 1 1/8 cups sugar, plus 1 tsp sugar
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk (our sour cream thinned with milk)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a 12-cup muffin with paper liners or baking spray. (note: I used spray and while the jam part of the muffin got a little sticky, I was able to get the muffins out eventually)
- Take 1 cup of berries and toss with 1 tsp. sugar. Cook in a small saucepan (or even the microwave), stirring frequently, until the berries have popped and the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool. (You could alternatively use jam, like I did).
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and the remaining sugar until smooth. Add butter, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, and stir to combine.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and remaining 1 cup of berries. Stir gently until just combined into a thick batter.
- Scoop into prepared muffin pans, then spoon about 1/2 tsp of the berry compote on top of each muffin. Swirl with a knife.
- Bake 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean of any batter (obviously if you stick it in a berry, try again).