They are bite-sized. They are delicious. They can be eaten in so many ways. They are good for you. And they are the closest thing we have to blue food. Yep, the miraculous blueberry!
April is blueberry season in Florida, and that’s when I start checking the local you-pick farms. The one we go to each year only advertises at most a week at a time on Facebook (HNH Blueberry Farm). Their hours vary with the weather, the number of berries in the field, and how many folks showed up to pick the day before.
We don’t have to drive very far to get into the undeveloped agricultural areas of north central Florida. Fields full of cabbage, potatoes, and corn line the roads just miles from our house. Small church buildings, farm supply stores, and transmission shops dot the landscape. Cows and horses fill the front yards of large homes and single wide trailers.
The GPS says it’s a forty-two mile drive, but it will take us a full hour to get to the blueberry farm. There is no sign on the four lane, so you have to watch for the turn off. A mile down the road we pull into a grassy lot in front of a small building and acres of blueberry bushes.
We always bring our own buckets, but they have plenty there. We walk through a small sheltered area where we will later check out, and then we’re there. Rows and rows of bushes covered with ripe and ripening blueberries. All you have to do is pick them, stuff them in your mouth, and fill your bucket.
The first blueberries I picked were huge. Some were 3/4-inch in diameter. They were so sweet. My grandson and I ate the first dozen or so we picked, and then we began filling up our buckets. The ones that are fully ripe come off the branch with hardly any effort at all. I didn’t have to walk around very much; every bush was speckled with blue. My wife and I spent an hour filling two buckets (a little over six pounds). My grandson only added a few to the harvest. This year the farm charged $5 per pound cash or $5.50 if you pay with a card. If a pint of blueberries weighs 12 ounces, we came home with about 8 pints. $4 a pint at Walmart. You can do the math. All I know is that the ones right off the bush are tastier than the ones that came from who knows where.
As I picked, I had to work about a lot of white and green berries which would ripen in the next few days. Some bushes still had flowers. Their berries wouldn’t be ready for several weeks. It’s a miracle. We can pick pounds of berries one day, and the next day there will be that many more ready to eat.
In addition to eating blueberries at every meal, my next task is baking scones and muffins, some to eat now and some to freeze for later. I’ve got some good recipes for just this occasion. We may use some of these for a pie, too.
Yes, I’m a big fan of blueberries!