Blueberry pie, raspberry jam, strawberry shortcake… Is your mouth watering yet?
My family loves berries, but in the Pacific Northwest the berry season is only a couple of months long. Berries are usually ripe in June, July, and August depending on the weather and type of berry. There are many local farms that offer U-Pick and they allow you to wander their fields and fill your bucket at your leisure.
Berry picking is fairly easy and does not require any skills except perhaps understanding what a ripe berry looks like. It can be fun little kids and big kids and of course, the reward of fruit is always a good motivator!
Check out the farm’s website before you head out to ensure that the type of berry you are looking for is in season. Some farms have other attractions such as a playground, café, or produce market.
British Columbia: http://www.bcfarmfresh.com/farm-products/
Washington State: http://www.pickyourown.org/WA.htm
You might find that some family farms in rural areas offer U-Pick also, but might not be listed. Our family found a gem in Pitt Meadows, BC. Sweet, juicy blueberries were falling off the branches and into our buckets with very little effort. Much to the delight of my kids, the farm owner even gave us a tractor ride to the far side of his field.
When you get home the berry fun continues! Snack on them fresh, bake them into muffins, top your yogurt or waffles with them, or try your hand at canning! And if you happen to have excess amounts, berries freeze easily. Just wash and dry them before putting them in a freezer bag.
Berry picking tips:
- Time your farm visit with the weather. Go when it is not too hot during the day (usually the field have no shade). The best berry picking day is a sunny day after a rainfall.
- Bring your own bucket. An ice cream pail is about the perfect size so that the berries at the bottom don’t get squished, but a child could still carry it. If you don’t have enough buckets, farms usually have some to share but they can be quite large.
- Don’t expect to your kids to pick vats of berries. Obviously you want to have some berries to take home, but if your kids tire easily most U-Pick farms have ready-picked berries for sale for a slightly higher price.
- Strawberries are picked close to the ground; most blueberries are mid-height; blackberries and raspberries plants tend to be taller. Choose your berry based on the height of your kids.
- Eat or bake your fresh berries within three days of picking. Otherwise you should freeze them.
About the Author:
Elaine Unger is a wife, scientist turned self-employed graphic designer, and mom to four spunky children. A meaningful conversation, a vigorous workout, or good book are the antidotes for her hectic pace of life.