This post has nothing to do with cherries; it’s not THAT kind of blog! Rather, we went blueberry picking for the first time last week. I’m not a pampered princess, but I’m really a wimp in the extreme heat, and I’ve always taken a pass when someone’s tried to convince me to go before. Since we live very near to the heart of midwestern farm country where the opportunities for fresh produce abound, I finally allowed myself to be talked into a u-pick outing.
We went to Eenigenburg’s Blueberries on the very first day of the season. It wasn’t too hot (mid-80s), and we got an early start since we had to drive about an hour. Our crew consisted of five moms and 14 kids ranging in age from 15 down to 4. Two teenaged girls on bikes provided us with buckets an ropes (for tying around our waists or necks) and led us to the back of the blueberry patch for a tutorial before turning us loose. Here’s what we learned:
1. This particular farm offered 18 different kinds of blueberries, but they were all mixed together, so you would have to look for the kind you preferred.
2. Each bucket would hold between five and six pounds of blueberries, so you could monitor your progress and not go too crazy if you didn’t want tons of fruit.
3. They asked that once we started picking a bush, we continue until all ripe fruit was removed. That would save them from having to come back and finish.
4. We were free to eat while we picked. This was the kids’ favorite part.
So we got to work. Since I wanted to follow the rules, I would sample a berry from a bush before I decided to pick it clean. It’s amazing how many different flavors there were! Don’t ask about varieties, as I can’t tell one from the next. But I did find that generally, the larger the blueberry, the sweeter its flavor, and those are the ones I mostly chose. We like to eat them by the handful and put them on cereal, so I prefer the sweeter berries. The smaller ones tended to be more tart, and I think those are better for pies. Once in a while I tried a berry that had virtually no flavor at all, and I’m not sure what those would be good for. Making dye? I don’t know, I just avoided those bushes.
We picked (and ate) for about an hour before the kids started to get bored and whiny, so we figured that would be a good time for a lunch break. You know how sometimes you picture how a day will turn out, and then something magical happens, and a different scenario unfolds? It’s like one of the best times you’ve ever had, but you can’t plan for it? A perfect convergence of the right place, the right people and the right circumstances? This was one of those days. And of course I forgot my camera, so it will have to live forever in my memory.
The blueberry patch verged right up to the edge of a little forest, so we had a nice shady lane to spread out blankets and lawn chairs. We had thought ahead and brought lunches, and once the kids had a little blood sugar adjustment, everyone was happy. We were back there chilling in the shade for so long that the girls on bikes kept coming back to check on us! When the moms were ready to get back to work, most of the kids opted out and instead started a rousing game of “Ghost in the Blueberry Patch.” They had a blast because there were so many places to hide, almost like being in a maze. The big kids kept an eye on the littler ones, and the moms were free to keep gathering berries while we could hear the laughter all around us. It was a win-win!
In the end, I only took home six pounds of blueberries. Although my “helpers” worked dilligently for that first hour, I think they consumed more than they contributed to our family buckets. But that was fine because we ate them all instead of freezing for a later date. We mostly ate them plain, but we also made smoothies and a couple of no-bake pies (did I mention how hot it is here?).