Please say a huge hello to our latest guest blogger, Diana Prichard! She’s passionate about food and the people who create it, and this post is a great testament to her love.
Every year over the Fourth of July holiday we pack our camper to the brim, load up the dogs, the horses, the children and every yard game known to man and venture just forty-five miles south to the private lake and cabin that has been in my family for years. There we converge on an almost week long family reunion. The small, rustic, three-room cabin built by my grandfather shortly after World War II acts as a community center as each family pulls in and sets up camp on the surrounding lawn.
As much as it is a tradition to gather there, spending the week fishing, swimming, and playing games, more so is it a tradition to take advantage of the season at hand. No, not the season of independence; the season of berries. Neighboring the property on which our haven resides is a u-pick farm. Though we’ve added a couple blueberry bushes to our own landscape over the years the u-pick, owned and operated by old family friends, remains our favorite place to buy berries of all kinds. I grew up on the strawberries grown from their fields, and have every intention of my children doing the same.
Picking the berries, a job I remember as long, hot, and tedious from the days of my youth, is often the easy part now. Preparing them to everyone’s liking is an entirely different matter. Our youngest, a purist at heart, likes them straight from the bush. It’s all we can do to make sure she doesn’t eat them before we pay. Our oldest likes them whipped into a breakfast smoothie. The husband likes them in pies, cobblers and shortcakes. And me? I can’t resist a good jam. Jam on scones, muffins, between the layers of a moist pound cake, over the top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream; I live for sinfully delicious jams made of homegrown berries.
We’re fortunate to have a u-pick both conveniently located and intimately interwoven with our family’s history, but you don’t have to know someone in the home-growing business to take advantage of the berry season. No matter how you like your berries prepared, you can find a u-pick like the one I’ve been frequenting since before I could walk at pickyourown.org. Or if you’re feeling a little less do-it-yourself, visit localharvest.org to find your nearest farmer’s market where you’ll likely run across artisans selling their already prepared berry goods; pies, cobblers, jams, shortcakes, and more. Either way you’ll be supporting local farm families and artisans. Just know, we can’t be held responsible for the pure, unbridled addiction that will follow.
Oh, and while I’m at it, why not pick up a berry bowl for washing, storing and snacking from year after year? If you buy it, I won’t have to. And both my wallet and husband will thank you.