If you’re looking for a sweet deal for your family this summer, look no further than berry picking! In addition to incredible health benefits (for the nervous system, brain health, or even fighting cancer), berries are also a top favorite for savory treats. Both blackberries and blueberries are currently in season (between July and August).
Here are some berry picking tips and a great recipe to make a tasty dessert after your hard work!
Go early in the day
The earlier you go in the day, the fresher the berries will be! Plus, arriving later in the day means a hotter sun, more crowds, and over-picked bushes. A helpful tip is to call the orchard or farm you are planning to visit the night before, as weather can affect picking conditions and if the farm is open. Also, be sure to bring the right gear for your “picking extravaganza,” including sunscreen, a protective hat, sunglasses, and clothes that you do not mind getting stained.
Pick the berry best
Remember that most berries do not ripen off of the vine, so you should pick the juiciest and richest berries right away. Keep color in mind as well. When it comes to picking blackberries, make sure the berry is plump and a rich dark purple color (not dull or uneven). For blueberries, they should be firm and a uniform color. As a rule of thumb, if a berry is ripe, it should come off of the bush easily.
Determine the most effective cost and container
There are two main ways that farms charge you for berries. The first one is a flat rate to buy a basket at a certain size and fit in as many berries as possible. The other option is to pay a specific price per pound after you’ve picked the berries (they will weigh it at the end). Just choose which price point works best for you!
Choosing the right container is also very important because you will need to transport your berries to your house without squishing them! Since berries are so fragile, make sure you lay them in as few layers as possible. We would recommend a shallow basket.
Washing your berries
Try to wash your berries immediately when you get home. Dip them in a bowl that has a 3:1 ratio of water to distilled white vinegar to help prevent mold growth. Then, make sure to completely dry your berries.
Put those berries to use with a recipe
Finally, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor! Here is one of our favorite blackberry pie recipes:
Prepare by picking over and hulling 4 cups of fresh berries, preheating the oven to 450°, and lining a pie pan with a pie dough.
2/3 to 1 cup of sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
(1½ tablespoons lemon juice or ½ teaspoon cinnamon)
If the fruit is juicy, add:
(2 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca)
Sprinkle these ingredients over the berries and stir gently until well-blended. Let stand for 15 minutes. Then, turn the fruit into the pie shell and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
Finally, cover the pie with a well-pricked top or with a lattice. Bake the pie in a 450° oven 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Voila! Now you have a savory reward, and a family tradition for future summers to come.