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Blueberries: All You Need to Know to Pick Your Own



 

 

Blueberries are found on nice person-sized bushes with no prickers. But blueberry bushes are often in grass, and sometimes near damp areas, so it's probably worthwhile to break out the bug spray.

Spend a little time helping your children learn what a ripe blueberry looks like for a more satisfying experience. And remember, you may get well-fed kids rather than lots of berries, but that's OK. Berry picking is one of the best activities of summer!

Photo credit: Bainbridge Island Blueberry Company

(Bonus: Before your farm visit, check out Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey and read for giggles.)

So, how do you pick out a good blueberry?

  • Ripe blueberries are a tiny bit soft and dark blue, rather than dusty looking. They need only a little tug to pick. If the twig bends, the berry wants to stay on a little longer.

  • Only pick ripe blueberries. They won't get any riper once picked.

  • Not too squishy. If they are already too soft to eat, leave them there.

  • Refrigerate or freeze if you have no plans for them before bedtime.

If you've consumed all the blueberries you possibly can and there are still a few leftover, here are a few quick things to do.

1. Freeze ‘em. Blueberries are the easiest berries to freeze, hands down. Rinse them, drain them, pick out any straw flowers and stems, toss them in a zip top bag and freeze. Done.

2. Queue up blueberry pancakes, waffles or muffins for the morning. Measure out all of the ingredients the night before, so all you have to do is mix ‘em up and cook them in the morning. This is a great way to get the kids involved in baking. If you do the measuring when no one is hungry or in a hurry you can take all the time you need. This is also a great "one kid is napping, one kid is awake" activity.

I have been using these two recipes for years, and highly recommend them. Use this pancake recipe from the Food Network and drop five-ish blueberries into each pancake as soon the batter is down. An easy waffle recipe can be found on my Fresh Start Cooking blog.

3. Make blueberry syrup. For each ½ cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen), use 1 Tablespoon of sugar or syrup. Add the blueberries and sugar to a sauce pan (and a splash of lemon juice if you have it). Smash the berries a bit with a fork. Stir over medium high heat until things start to bubble. Drop the heat to low and simmer until the syrup is a bit thicker and makes you want to eat it with a spoon.

Use the syrup over yogurt or ice cream right away, or cool and store in the freezer in ½ cup amounts. Heat it up and use at your leisure on pancakes and waffles.

 

The blueberry harvest generally runs throughout August and into September. Visit the Puget Sound Fresh website for a complete list of farms that sell blueberries.

Here is a list of some of the area farms that offer u-pick blueberries. Be sure and check with the farm the day you'd like to visit to make sure they have berries ripe and ready for picking:


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Helping parents, kids and new cooks navigate and enjoy fresh, local and sometimes unusual produce prodded Greta Hardin into writing Cooking Your Local Produce. She's a science teacher, enthusiastic cook and mother of a 10-year-old son. She couldn't find a cookbook to help people get started in the emerging landscape of local food, so she wrote this one. More information and recipes are available at www.gretahardin.com.

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