I am always looking for quick and simple bar recipes to take to potlucks or other community meals. You know you live in the Midwest when you are asked to bring a salad and bars to a church potluck. I had some fresh blueberries on ham and decided to make some blueberry crumble bars. They were a hit at the potluck! Kassie of Bowerman Blueberries joins us to discuss her multi-generation family blueberry farm!
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
My grandparents William and Winifred Bowerman planted their very first blueberry bushes the year my father was born in 1948. The Bowerman Blueberries was officially started and had its first harvest in 1954. In 1982 my parents Randy and Carol Bowerman purchased the farm and took over operations. They also purchased the adjacent 80 acres to expand the farm. I have lived on the farm almost my entire life and its a way of life for our entire family.
Are there any differences between your farm now and when you were a kid?
There is a big difference between our farm now and when I was a kid. My parents Randy and Carol managed the entire operation on their own. They harvested the blueberries, packed them up, and sold them wholesale. Most nights at the end of a very long day I would also ride along to deliver blueberries to one of our customers. I remember one of the special treats I would get after a delivery was my favorite bubble gum ice cream from the local ice cream shop after the delivery.
In the 1990s my parents built a self serve covered fruit stand that we eventually had employees run. In 2010 my parents took a leap of faith and invested part of their retirement to build a building with a certified kitchen so we could expand our offerings. We now offer u-pick blueberries seasonally and our store is open 5 months of the year! We still sell wholesale, but we also sell locally from our farm store and at the Holland Farmers Market.
What has been the hardest part of farming for you?
The long days during the blueberry harvest can be very stressful. We cannot always control all of the moving parts like the weather, so we do our very best to prepare and we hope for the best but also have a plan for the worst. I remember during the season receiving multiple emails and texts from our customers saying that the blueberries were simply the best they have ever had and they were just so thankful for us having grown them. And our loyal customers coming back to us year after year are like our extended family and we love to see and reconnect each year. We are just so thankful for them and all of the kind words we receive – it truly makes those long and stressful harvest days worth it!
I used a jelly roll pan for these bars, but you could also use a 13″ x 9″ pan as well. A jelly roll pan makes thinner more portable bars versus thicker, more crumble like bars. Your choice.
- Crust & Topping
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- dash of salt
- 1 cup butter, cold & cut into small cubes
- Blueberry Layer
- 3 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup jelly (I used plum)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender, two forks, or your hands until the crust forms small peas and holds together. Press 1/2 - 2/3 of the mixture into a jelly roll pan. Save 1/2 - 1/3 of the crust mixture for a crumble topping.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the blueberries, jelly, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir to combine. Pour blueberry mixture over the top of the crust and smooth out with a spatula.
- Crumble the remaining crust topping over the top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbling. Cool completely before cutting. Cut into bars & enjoy!