Gone Berry Picking
By Noel Daniel
As heat sweeps through the Valley, it’s obvious the summer months are upon us. Nothing sounds better than a fresh pitcher of strawberry lemonade, or homemade blueberry popsicles—except maybe the tradition of picking them yourself.
Gather up your friends and family and head to a UPick farm to collect sun-warmed berries from their branches and form lasting memories.
VanderHelm Farms opens in May and closes in June, operating Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jessop Farms opens in the middle of May for blueberry picking, and offers strawberry picking starting the last week of May.
HOW TO PICK BLUEBERRIES
Keep an eye out for plump, full blueberries that have a light, grey-blue color. Berries with red on them aren’t fully ripe. White and green berries will not ripen after they are picked, although purple and red berries will ripen at room temperature.
Blueberries grow in bunches, so the easiest way to pick them is to hold your bucket beneath the branch you’ll be working on, then cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them loose. The ripe berries will drop into the bucket, leaving the unripe berries behind.
HOW TO PICK STRAWBERRIES
Grasp the stem above the berry in your thumb and forefinger and pull with a slight twisting motion. Roll the berry into the palm of your hands, then place the berries carefully into your containers. Don’t overfill containers or pack the berries as this can lead to bruising.
HOW TO FREEZE YOUR BERRIES
Make sure to let your berries cool before putting them into a closed container so that moisture doesn’t form. Also, refrain from washing the berries until just before using to prevent them from becoming mushy.
To increase shelf life, chill the berries after they’ve cooled from being sun-warmed. Refrigerated berries will keep 10 to 14 days. To freeze berries, place them one-layer deep, freeze, then pour into freezer containers so they can be poured individually when needed.
Excited to start picking berries yet? Pencil in a day at a UPick farm and get picking! For more information about our two picks for UPick farms, visit www.jessopfarms.com and www.vanderhelmfarms.com.