August 3, 2009

Blueberries, Blueberries and More Blueberries!

Over the weekend we headed out to Virginia Beach in search of a little blueberry farm advertised as "you-pick". And, boy, did we pick our little hearts out!

Pungo Farm actually sells all kinds of produce, not just blueberries. But the "you-pick" season around here for blueberries and thornless blackberries only lasts between July and August. More and more farmers are converting patches of their farm land into you-pick patches. Pick everything from strawberries to peaches and pecans. This way, the farmers save on paying laborers to pick the berries and they're selling their product at the same time: you come, you pick, you pay. It's cost and effort efficient and also makes for a delightful, wholesome weekend outing. :)

The humidity was high that day, but thank goodness for the overcast skies. We spent about an hour and a half at the patch and came home with 8lbs of blueberries! At $1.79/lb + tax (less than $15 for 8 lbs), it was a steal! Supermarkets usually sell a pint (3/4 lb) of blueberries for $3.50! I know 8 lbs sounds like a lot of blueberries (and oh boy it is!) but they're so incredibly delicious, ridiculously healthy and extremely versatile that I wouldn't mind having buckets of it laying around.

To find a "you-pick" farm near you, check out Don't you love it when a web address says it all?

Tips for picking your own produce:
  • Call ahead to make sure it's prime picking season and inquire about operating hours, pricing and payment options. Don't be afraid to call around to find the best price/lb deal.
  • Wear bug spray, sunblock, sunglasses, floppy hat. There are lots of bugs and its hot out! Also, beware of large spiders that spin their web in between branches!
  • Bring picking buckets! Some farms provide containers but others do not. You'll also need something to transport all the goodies home (i.e. cooler)
  • Get down, deep and dirty! The best, juiciest and fattest blueberries were deep in the center of the bushes. Most people just pick from the outer branches so the berries deep in the center a left alone to fatten and ripen. Make the most of your trip by getting down and dirty in search of the best berries!
Now I'm faced with the yummy dilemma of disposing of all those blueberries. So far I've frozen 2 pints for later use and made blueberry muffins (technique and recipe to follow in a later post). Other projects I have in mind are: blueberry lemonade, blueberry lemon cheesecake squares and blueberry jam. Any other suggestions or unique recipe idea? Sharing with neighbors is a good option too but let's leave it as a last resort for now... I'm protective of my blueberries :)

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