From a young age my mom would always drag me to go berry picking. It felt like such a chore because it required us to be up at 7 am on the weekend, and it would be a 2-3 hour excursion.
But the aftermath was always pleasant one - fresh fruit, strawberry cheesecake, homemade strawberry sauce for ice cream and pasta (yes, odd combination but a great one) and blueberry perogies.
As I get older, I find myself appreciating those moments a little more and come the realization the importance of eating in season and supporting our local farmers. Perhaps my mother has been the underlining influence for Thrive With The Seasons and I'm slowly coming to realize it.
I want to keep up my family picking tradition and start taking advantage of the summer fruit. Last weekend I planned a blueberry and raspberry picking adventure. There are numerous farms not far from Vancouver and I picked the most convenient one - Driediger Farms in Langley. I still feel like a newbie driving around Vancouver, so the more direct route the better.
If you're interested in picking your own fruit, there are a few tips I would recommend.
🍓 Do your research
Before you head over to the farm, call in advance to ensure their U Pick program is still on. Sometimes certain fruit seasons end early or they've simply been picked.
🍓 Get there early
The earlier the better. Beat the crowd, pick in peace and get the best berries! There are a lot of parents that bring their kids about 2 hours after opening. When I went on Sunday, I was one of the first to arrive. It was pleasant not to wait in line and I had an entire row all to myself
🍓 Dress accordingly
Out on the farm the weather can vary. Make sure you got yourself covered for any type of weather. Within my 1.5 hour visit, it went from rain jacket weather to short sleeve to sweater weather. Just keep the forecast in mind.
🍓 Picking the ripest raspberries
Ripe raspberries are brightly coloured and slide off the stem easily. If you struggle to pull them off the stem, they aren't ready yet. The entire berry should be consistently coloured.
🍓 Picking the ripest blueberries
Since blueberries grow in clusters, not all of the berries will ripen at the same time. Some clusters may contain both green and ripe fruit. A blueberry is ripe when it is completely blue in colour, from the stem end to the outer, opposite of the stem. Keep in mind that blueberries do not ripen when they have been picked. If the blueberries have green or red near the stem end, do not pick them yet.
Ripe blueberries feel firm to the touch, rather than soft or mushy. Ripe blueberries taste sweet; unripe blueberries will not have much flavour or sweetness.