June 28th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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What do you do with a 12-year-old niece who has just started her summer vacation and is already bored? You put her to work picking blueberries.

I picked Susie up early so we would beat the heat. My pick-your-own fruit history was limited to apples and peaches, so I wasn’t sure how labor intensive, bending, stooping or squatting, the picking would be. It turns out to require a bit of all three, but not to a point where my back hurt.

We arrived at Homestead Farms in Poolesville, MD just before 10 a.m. loaded with re-usable plastic blueberry containers and sturdy bags. After a quick tutorial on how to identify and pick ripe berries we were off. A ripe blueberry is entirely blue. If the berry has a hint of red on it then it will still be a bit tart.

Susie was quick to master the "pick only ripe berries" technique. 1. Hold the container under the branch of berries. 2. Take the bunch in your hand and gently pull the ripe berries. 3. Let the berries fall into the container.

It was a sunny day and we quickly picked 12 pounds of delicious juicy berries. What do you do with 12 pounds of fruit? Well you can start as Susie’s mom did and put them in a chocolate cake. Or you can just eat them by the handful at every meal as I am still doing. My only regret - not bringing more containers to fill up with ripe, yummy berries.

Periodically, Lick the Screen will showcase a food photo that sets our stomach rumbling. If you'd like your work to be featured, submit your pictures to the Eatocracy Flickr pool or leave a link in the comments. We'll get in touch if what we see makes us weak at the knees.

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Filed under: Farmstands • Foraging • Lick the Screen • Local Food


soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Loryncello

    East Texas blueberries rate right up there with the best of the best. Picking is prime this weekend and I can't wait to get out there and pick. I have to say we like them bluer than blue, that deep dark almost black color. Best way to eat them? In a bowl with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Add strawberries for a tasty 4th of July celebration.

    June 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  2. LoveMyWife

    I have a number of blueberry trees in the yard, but the birds seem to think they're there just for them!
    I welcome any good ideas on keeping the birds from eating "my" blueberries (they get them before they're completely blue).

    I've been hanging old CDs on the tree as I heard somewhere that the reflection scares the birds away, but I'm not so sure... Thank you all

    June 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  3. Diana

    Oh my do I want to bake a blueberry pie right now.... Actually I really just want to eat one haha. They look scrumptious!

    June 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  4. Ryan in Michigan

    Strange, but it seems blueberries here in Michigan, at least the wild ones, aren't ripe until at least early September. The berry season usually starts with strawberries in mid to late June, cherries in early to mid July, then moves on to raspberries in late July, black raspberries in early August, then blackberries in mid August through early September, and ends with blueberries in mid to late September. Could it be because the climate is so different this far north?

    June 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Reply
    • Reasonably Picky

      It depends on the type of blueberry. Blueberry season in SW Michigan starts with the Fourth of July (that's the standard wisdom – of course conditions vary) for the earlier types.

      June 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  5. ZackBauer

    Nothing compares to the wild Maine lowbush blueberries. Nothing.

    June 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Gregory Pellerin

      Word.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  6. Maryland Blueberry Picker

    Picked 14 pounds last weekend at Butlers Orchard in Germantown, MD ... $2.49 per pound. Love them! 1st baking will probably be a blueberry pie followed by the chocolate cake (mmmm! never tried the cake idea).

    June 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  7. Scott

    East of Tulsa, near Broken Arrow, OK http://www.facebook.com/thunderbirdberryfarm

    June 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Reply
  8. Justin

    I grew up in Maine picking small pals full of fresh blueberries just in the front yard. I've tried blueberries from all over and I will tell you, there is no comparison. Put them in pancakes, ceral, jam...just about anything. How I miss them so.

    June 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Lily

      Blueberries from Maine I would take my nephew with his little pale, and start picking or eating. When we return to the house the pales were empty. We both had big blue smiles. I do remember the best pancakes. Long and go from East Booth Bay. Wicked goooooooooood.

      June 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  9. KinNYC

    Hmmm. Might have to go berry picking Saturday morning. Jersey is still a pretty big producer of blueberries so I won't have to go far. But will I make my co-workers muffins? . . .

    June 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  10. CJ

    It's probably easier to get them on sale at the grocery store. They've been $1.99/lb at the stores near me in Maryland for the past couple of weeks. Why pay more to pick them yourself? It might be a fun idea for bored kids, but it's kinda silly.

    June 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • Genie

      CJ,
      It’s not silly to pick blueberries yourself. When you buy them at the supermarket you are buying berries laden with pesticides so you are ingesting numerous dangerous chemicals which are not good for your body and detract from the natural flavor of the berries. The chemicals don’t do the soil any good either. When you pick them at a farm, assuming that it’s an organic farm, then you are doing yourself a great service by ingesting berries that are purely healthful and flavorful, and you are also supporting a farmer who is committed to environmental sensitivity. When you shop at the supermarket you are supporting the corporate global elites, and when you shop at a local farm you are supporting an individual or a Mom and Pop business, maybe someone just like you or just like me. And you’re not paying more for the berries at the farm really as you are getting them without pesticides, and you can eat as many as you want while picking them. And besides all those reasons, when you pick them yourself you have a greater appreciation of what goes into growing the berries, and you do yourself a favor by being outdoors in Nature.

      June 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
      • Jeremy

        "Global elites"? ;) Dude I'm sure that works with most industries but with blueberries it's a really funny example. I grew up in the area of the US where most blueberries come from actually and it's not "global elites" that are growing and harvesting them, blueberries aren't like most crops, the major companies of that area who have the majority of the fields and stuff are still small locally-owned companies. Yes once processed they're sent to all sorts of other companies for various uses but if you're buying them in a cardboard carton fresh from a store, they came from a "company" that had all of 100 employees tops (if you don't count seasonal raking crew I mean).

        June 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • Jeremy

        And despite what you'd think and wanting to back "the little guy" the organic push for blueberries, in Maine anyway, (which produces most of the world's blueberries) came from the larger operations here. The small landowners and such were resistant to methods since people in that part of Maine (I can say this I grew up there :P) tend to be pretty resistant to change and not big on the whole "environmental" thing. Also blueberries don't generally grow on farms, they grow in the barrens as they're called which are long rough stretches of glacially-formed land.

        June 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  11. Dean

    We have 6 blueberry bushes in the back yard, some 25 years old, and harvest 10 – 15 pounds or more every year. Many are frozen in ziplocks, to be used in pancakes and waffles throughout the year.

    The only problem is keeping birds away. I construct a PVC pipe cube frame around the bushes, and wrap it in birdnet before the berries ripen. It works very well, and the added enjoyment is watching the birds try and get in!

    June 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  12. The Witty One

    Poolsville is right across the potomac for me! I'm on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich!

    June 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  13. charkie1

    @phyllis...let's just say that the farmers & grocers turn a blind eye. still, having been a child labor from 4 or 5 years old until i finally graduated from high school, as long as my father was not screaming or beating me up, it is an experience that, while i did not know it then, helped me become the person i am today. it has provided me with insight that 'normal' people will never have with exquisite memories of nature and the power therein. so, don't worry about children working...worry about how their parents, and for that matter, society, treats them. -cheers!

    June 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  14. karin

    I eat blueberries on oatmeal every morning of the year. They are so good for you and preserving them is SO easy. Simply wash and dry berries. Spead them in a single layer on a cooke sheet or any size pan that will fit in your freezer. No need to cover. Freeze overnight. Then transfer to zip lock bags in quantities you would eat in two or three days. Buy them now when the prices are low and enjoy year round.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  15. aubrie

    Ahhhh..... ripe Maine blueberries..... Got turned on to blueberry martinis when I was there. Lucsious!!!

    June 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  16. Phyllis

    Many of the blueberry pickers are children. We don't allow children to work in an office; why then do we allow them to pick blueberries? Child labor laws don't seem to apply to child blueberry pickers. I will not eat blueberries as long as they are picked by children.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Wow...thank you, you're the first person I've ever met who's agreed with this. I was out raking blueberries from the time I was 8 years old (late 80s) and this wasn't the cute leisurely pick them off the bush, this is harvesting berries which is back-breaking work for healthy adults, but kids are expected to do it to help make ends meet in dirt poor Maine.

      June 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
      • Bailes24

        I had friends who grew up practically on the Maine/ Canadian border and they had to miss school to pick potatoes. When I was in H.S I thought it was cool cuz they got to miss school, I obviously know now that it is not cool, its actually very wrong. The rules don't apply up there I guess.

        June 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  17. I got the Blues

    Here in South Florida we are out of luck picking fresh, but we do buy organic blueberries from Whole Foods and they not only taste much better than conventional blueberries, but berries are known for heavy pesticides if they are not organic. This is why we stopped shopping at grocery stores like Publix because they just don't carry enough organic produce to make it worth a trip there. As my wife says, "Either pay for good food now or pay for medical bills later."

    June 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
  18. Brian

    Your post brought back memories of summer berrying with my granddaughter: http://briantmaurer.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/summer-berrying/

    June 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  19. Alix

    It was too dry here this year for blueberries, and I am really missing not gettng to pick them!

    June 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  20. John T.

    Here in New England we have the native low bush buleberry. They are small but full of flavor. The market cutlivated bluberrys are large and full of water and because they are sold by the pint (volume) you get less.
    Maine is probably the best place for the blueberry lover, they are at the top of my list. N.H.

    June 28, 2011 at 11:59 am | Reply
    • Dirk Diggler

      Sorry John T. but Cumberland County Nova Scotia Canada has the best low bush blueberries in the world. Oxford NS is the blueberry capital of the world.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Reply
      • Jeremy

        Oh and MAINE is the blueberry capital of the world Diggler, despite what your province likes to think. N.S. likes to think they are by taking the (significantly more) berries from Maine and shoving them in Canada warehouses but as someone who helped run the industry for a while Maine has something like 5 times as much of a harvest rate as Nova Scotia.

        June 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • Andrea M

      I have fond memories of picking wild blueberries on a tiny island in the middle of a lake in New Hampshire on vacation as a kid. Went out in a kayak with a dixie cup then made blueberry pancakes and muffins with them.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    • Jeremy

      As someone who spent college summers (not too long ago) processing Maine and Canadian berries...Nova Scotia berries are "frankenberries" (and not the awesome cereal). They're full of weird chemicals and have been genetically messed with, they taste bland and I'm not sure why Canadians advertise them as "genuine Nova Scotia berries" since that's not really known as a GOOD thing.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
      • Bailes24

        IMHO- There is no better breakfast food then blueberry pancakes made with the berries you picked yourself, I am from Scarborough and we were fortunate enough to have a few bushes in our backyard. You'd wake up run outside barefoot with the grass still dewey and wet and feverishly pick the berries which took forever- cuz well you ate half of them and there was no denying that to mom when you finally came in because your mouth was stained blue-AHHHHHH growing up in the 80's in Maine, wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

        June 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      I'll be the judge of whose blueberries are better. Send them here to me. ;)
      You ARE right though, those cultivated monster blueberries are nothing but water and zero flavor. :(
      Hmmm, maybe next year, I'll plant a bunch here...

      June 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  21. fob

    I just bought some fresh blueberries. I then froze them in a ziploc and eat a few at a time out of the freezer. They are a perfect snack that way!

    June 28, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  22. Russell

    Anyone know of a good place to go pick blueberries in northern Utah?

    June 28, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Andrea M

      Having been to that neighborhood of the planet, I'm guessing you're out of luck. Blueberries and desert don't really mix.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Reply
      • laurab68

        Are you drunk? How on earth can you say that blueberries & desert don't mix. Well lets see, there is chocolate fondue, chocolate cake, blueberry pound cake, blueberries & whipped cream, blueberry parfaits, blueberries & ice cream, blueberry pie or just blueberries by themselves omg I'm in heaven! Summer totally rocks! They stabilize your blood sugar and they are full of antioxidants.
        I eat wild frozen blueberries every morning in my oatmeal. As I can't eat anything with gluten or eggs, breakfast is a challenge for me. So far oatmeal is the only thing that doesn't make my stomach hurt in the morning.

        June 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Reply
      • The Witty One@laura

        Desert =/= Dessert

        June 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Reply
      • laurab68

        Oh and I forgot blueberry coffee cake (i have a killer recipe if you want), blueberry and lemon muffins, blueberry cobler, blueberry crisp, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry tarts, blueberry dumplings, blueberry buckle, blubebery and lemon custard. Shall I go on??? Open your horizons. Blueberries pair very well with other fruits such as apples, lemons and organges. Your tastebuds will thank you!

        June 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Reply
      • The Witty One@laura

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

        June 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Reply
      • Dixie Sugarbaker, of the Savannah Sugarbakers@Laura

        Bless your little heart. Hooked on phonics can work for you too.

        June 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Reply
      • fonicks boi

        Dat hukd un fonicks is gud sheat. mae EY also rektomand reedan fer komprehanshun

        June 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • Jeremy

        Ok Laura let me clue you in if you still don't get it. They said DESERT, one S not dessert. Desert as in "stretch of terrain with very little precipitation." Not dessert as in "a course, usually sweet, eaten at the end of a meal or as a snack later."

        June 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • JD

      grocery store. LOL

      June 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  23. Amy in Tennessee

    Blueberries in Tennessee are in full swing too. I just this past weekend went to Lawrenceburg, TN to Blueberries on the Buffalo Farm... My 3 year old and I both enjoyed picking Blueberries and afterwards we walked to the pond the feed the catfish (fish food not the blueberries..Lol) Dan and Debbie Eisler the owner of the farm are very helpful and great host and hostees. For a Gallon of Blueberries it was like $16.00 if they pick them for you it's $20.00.
    The first of July their Blackberries will be ready as well!

    June 28, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  24. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Good grief! "Lick the Screen"? What a disgusting name! Please change it. It's almost enough to make me not want to see these articles. I do like blueberries, though. I read this article only because it had to do with blueberries, NOT because of the title of the series.

    June 28, 2011 at 11:53 am | Reply
    • JD

      Oh get over yourself.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  25. Mildred

    Oh gods... I do want to eat the screen, not just lick it.

    I wonder what blueberry prices are around here (Albany, NY)....

    June 28, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
    • Sammy

      You can lick me, I'm sweet!

      June 28, 2011 at 11:57 am | Reply
    • Rozita

      Prices are low now! This is the time to enjoy them. Blueberries are coming up from New Jersey and the local supermarkets are selling them for $1.99 to $2.99 a pint. We'll start seeing the locally produced blueberries later in the summer, but they are usually around $3.99 a pint.

      June 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  26. Thomas Paine

    I love blueberries too! Thought you might like the attached post now that the Jersey berries are coming in: http://middleofthefreakinroad.com/2010/06/05/measuring-the-march-of-time-one-ripe-blueberry-at-a-time/

    June 28, 2011 at 10:05 am | Reply
    • Beekeeper Rick

      Better thank the honeybees for these delicious blueberries. In fact, thank them for over 130 fruits and vegetables which without their pollination services we would all just have these pictures to look at and drool!

      June 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Reply

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