I remember berry picking when I was younger. Picking strawberries in PA was a hot, sticky, prickly pastime. When my sister suggested that we pick blackberries last year I was rather reluctant. After all it seemed a most difficult way to obtain those desirable berries when I could just buy them in the store for a little more money. And I had an unpredictable two-year-old that I didn’t want to be chasing all over the berry field. However, my sister can be persuasive and so of course we went berry picking.
It was a great day. My young daughter ran and ran without harm coming to her and later took a wonderful nap! We purchased quite a few berries for quite a discounted price compared to what we would have paid in the store and we had a nice time chatting while we picked over the bushes.
This year I made sure that we went berry picking again! First we picked strawberries at a local farm in late January/early February. We easily picked 10 pounds in a half hour! Picking strawberries there was lots of fun since they farm hydroponically and the strawberries are stacked up instead of down on the ground. My daughter had so much fun that she continually asked to go back and pick some more. I had a delightful time freezing some for smoothies, enjoying some strawberry shortcake, and making some strawberry freezer jam.
A few weeks ago we picked blueberries at Abshier Blueberry Farm in Belleview. Again we easily picked quite a few blueberries although I think we spent more like an hour this time. I ended up freezing a lot of the blueberries as I had a house guest and no extra time in the kitchen. We did eat a lot fresh and I enjoyed using up the last of the fresh blueberries in these tasty waffles: Lemon Blueberry Gluten-Free, Vegan Waffles. Those disappeared in no time at my Bible Study brunch!
In the next few weeks we plan on picking blackberries again at Blues Brothers Farm in Anthony, FL. I can hardly wait to taste some fresh blackberries and experiment with some diary-free, gluten-free blackberry treats. Again I will freeze some for smoothies and treats throughout the coming year, but I doubt I will make any jam. It is hard to get rid of those pesky blackberry seeds, but I sure enjoy eating the fruit anyway!
So if you are looking for something to do with your kids this spring/early summer why don’t you check out berry picking in your area? It can be a novel way to break out of the “everything is always the same” rut!