Last Sunday morning Dad & Mom and the husband & I went to a local blueberry farm and picked 40 lbs of blueberries. You read that right: 40 pounds of blueberries. 13 for Dad & Mom, the rest for the husband and I. I know, there are only two of us. Why on earth do we need…what’s that math? 27 pounds of blueberries! I’ll get to all of the delights that have been made and will be made with the blueberries, but let’s start with the pickin’.
We arrived at the blueberry farm a little after 8. We knew we’d better get an early start with temperatures again forecast into the 90’s. Lucky for us, the blueberry farm is about 15 minutes from The Homestead.
It was a primo day. The bushes were loaded, the skies were blue, the people-traffic light. We checked in with the owner of the field, who sat with either a buddy or a relative outside a run down barn (full of…stuff. Dare I say crap?) in run down lazy boys. They were obviously settled in for the day. When we left a little after 10 they were sitting in the same chairs, eating bbq. Why not?
But, I like the casualness of the berry farm. We actually usually pick at the farm next door, but it didn’t open until 9. The two owners are actually brothers, though I’ve heard rumors that they don’t get along. We grabbed some picking cans and some larger buckets to dump the berries into and headed out into the field.
We picked our way under branches to a “good” spot and settled in. I always struggle with the first can (the husband and I have been picking blueberries annually since we married). I think it’s blueberry overload. Too many to choose from mixed with moments of, “Why am I out here? I really don’t love picking berries.” Then I settle into a rhythm and things get better. I truly don’t love picking berries. Harkens back to my childhood. When I was a kid we picked strawberries pretty much annually as there were fields close to where I grew up. Picking strawberries sucks. To much leaning and stooping. And, let’s face it, most kids, when put in a berry field and instructed to pick, find it fun for about 15 minutes before they’re ready to leave. We reaped the benefits of the picking, but there was a lot of whining (primarily from me) during the process. Plus, it’s much cheaper to pick than to buy. And, if you pick you can de-stem as you go, which makes cleaning the berries easy and saves on cost because you’re not paying for the stems. We got raspberries from my Great Grandfather’s house. My Mom had to remind me of that today. Once she did I remembered the raspberry canes in his yard. I also remember dahlias…lots of dahlias. Some of the dahlia bulbs I have in my garden are from Great Grandpa Jones’ house, passed down to me from Mom. We did not, however, pick blueberries as there were no fields near where I grew up.
The husband and I pick blueberries for obvious reasons: freezer jam and freezer berries. Those are the top two reasons. Oh, and some kind of delicious dessert made with fresh berries. I’ve already made raspberry freezer jam this summer. I told you about it here.
Anyways, us and the parents, out in the field. Us and a gazillion honey bees. They were out in force this morning. I kept thinking of blueberry honey while I did my best to avoid grabbing a bee attached to a blueberry. I blew a lot of honeybees off clusters of berries that I wanted to pick. They did not necessarily appreciate that.
We hauled our load home, showered the field dirt off of us and Mom and I got down to business. The husband very kindly offered to do the grocery shopping for me, so off he and Dad went.
Mom washed and sorted berries before spreading them on cookie sheets. They went into the standing freezer in the garage. Later this week they’ll be bagged and vacuum sealed. Blueberries, all winter long. In smoothies, muffins, pancakes…you get the idea.
While she worked on that I made a blueberry peach cobbler (yum) and a double batch of blueberry freezer jam. Or, rather, I attempted to screw up a double batch of blueberry freezer jam. Mom and I were yapping away and I doubled the amount of fruit. Now, the instructions on the pectin always gives dire warnings about measuring exactly and not doing this and not doing that. Oops. But, I had combined berries and sugar and was not about to toss it all out. I usually use powdered pectin, but I use liquid for the blueberry jam and have noticed that it always sets extraordinarily solid. That actually worked to my advantage as the jam turned out softer (but not too soft) and the double-berries made it very blue and very…blueberry. I might have to remember that flub next year.
Because that wasn’t enough I mixed up a batch of blueberry muffins and filled a large bowl with berries to enjoy during the week. And made sure to leave enough for the blueberry margaritas on the menu for later in the evening. It was a day of berry overachievement. So much so that, after we were done, we spent most of the rest of the afternoon lounging in the backyard chasing the shade.