That is how we found ourselves today at a U Pick blueberry farm (for the third time this year!) picking blueberries. I still have plenty left from the second picking (August 3) but I just could not keep away.
The rhythms of picking, the standing outside on a nice day, sooth, and the thought of sweet berries for dessert tonight sustain me.
This year we've had one of the best crops I can remember. We picked early berries, mid season berries, and now late berries. Normally, the crop would be finishing up about now, but we are told we will have about another two weeks of picking.
The birds love the berries, too. This particular farm uses both high tech (bird calls) and low tech (pinwheels) methods to scare the birds away.
How to pick? How to prepare? This blog post from July, 2012, explains. Now in my second summer on Weight Watchers, I find I enjoy blueberries with 1/2 cup of fat free vanilla frozen yogurt. And, fresh without anything (no sugar, no cream) works just fine, too.
Sustainable Saturday - How to Pick Blueberries
No admission charge, either. (I understand some farms now charge admission to pick - which bothers me but maybe one of my readers can justify that practice.)
Yes, you will have to wear sunscreen, bring some kind of bug repellent (there are natural ones available if you wish), and wear a hat to ward off the sun. You also should bring some water. Children and grandparents are optional. The lovely thing about blueberry picking is that almost anyone can participate. The plants do not have thorns, and you can stand up (or sit down) and pick.
How do you know blueberries are ripe? Well, in the picture above, the ones at the top of the picture are definitely not ripe. There will be berries in all stages on the bush. The best way to judge ripeness is to see if the berry has 'bloom" on it - in other words it should look like it has a dusty whitish frosting on it Your bloomin' berry should be firm. Shriveled means "too late".
This is where children come in. Many people pick at "chest" level. They miss the low down berries. Train your children to think low (low, but not touching the ground low) and they may get all the wonderful berries everyone else has missed.
Size (unlike in some things) does not matter. In fact, some people think the smaller the berry, the sweeter.
You don't have to worry about deep buckets (unlike raspberries, which will squash).
Once you get the berries home DO NOT WASH UNTIL JUST ABOUT READY TO USE. You don't want to wash the bloom off. They will keep 2 weeks (I admit to keeping them longer) in the fridge.
How to eat? A lot of people like them with cream or sugar. But I've always loved them "au natural".
What is your favorite way to prepare blueberries?