Monday, July 28, 2014

Exploring Connecticut: Blueberry Picking

When you can walk into the grocery store and buy blueberries at any time of the year, it’s hard to know when exactly they are in season. I certainly don’t know when most foods are in season, except for a vague knowledge that pumpkins and squash are harvested in autumn, and strawberries are in season in the summer.

This past weekend, when Aaron and I decided to go berry picking, I discovered that I had completely missed strawberry season, at least here in eastern Connecticut. I was very disappointed! Luckily, it is still blueberry season, so Aaron and I decided to pick blueberries. Aaron had only been berry picking once when he was about 9 or 10, and the only berry picking I ever did was along the creek behind my friend’s house as a little girl, where blackberries grew wild and delicious. (I sneaked the red ones when no one was looking.)

So we drove out to a blueberry farm about twenty minutes away, and realized we hadn’t brought any cash as we pulled up. Luckily, even in rural areas, one still encounters Dunkin Donuts, so we quickly drove back and got money out at the ATM.

Returning with our freshly withdrawn dollars, we arrived at the berry farm and walked down a slope to join the other pickers. I don’t think I’d ever seen a blueberry bush before that day. The farm was huge; the pickers only occupied a small section of the whole farm.

The price was only $2.70 a pound, which certainly beats the teeny containers in the grocery store! I enjoyed the satisfying plunks as blueberries fell into my plastic bucket, but plastic buckets are deceiving.

Aaron and I each had a small plastic bucket, about as big as a 16 oz. yogurt container. In addition to that, we had a gallon container lined with a plastic bag, into which we dumped our individual buckets. 

We never filled up our small plastic buckets. When you dump small amounts of blueberries into a gallon bucket, it doesn't seem as if there are all that many blueberries inside. However, when we walked up the hill to the checkout stand, we discovered that we had inadvertently picked over 3 pounds of blueberries!

We arrived home and Aaron made us smoothies: a blend of the blueberries, pomegranate lime juice from Trader Joe’s, and frozen mixed berries. Usually we add bananas and yogurt to smoothies to even out the texture, but even though we were out of both ingredients, the smoothie was amazing. I used to blend smoothies using only frozen fruit and juice, yet have recently discovered the tantalizing textures that a smoothie gains when we use fresh fruit.

I could snack on blueberries all day, but 3 pounds is way more than it seems, and we won’t be able to finish the blueberries simply by snacking! So we need your help, readers: what are your favorite blueberry recipes?

Also, I’d love to hear your berry picking experiences…who else managed to pick way more fruit than they anticipated? We had a lot of fun berry picking, and I’m hoping to take advantage of all the farms in the area, especially when fall arrives.

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