Cooking School

Tips for picking your own blueberries

Blueberry Cream Layer Cake
Photography by Jeff Coulson
Image by: Blueberry Cream Layer Cake<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Tips for picking your own blueberries

You can't get berries any fresher than when you pick them yourself or buy them directly from a farm. And when you go berry picking with your kids, it's not all hard work; many farms provide wagon rides, picnic area and refreshments, so it's more like a fun family adventure.

Learn how to pick blueberries like a pro with these tips from Morrie Gervais, owner and operator of Barrie Hill Farms, one of the biggest highbush blueberry farms in Ontario.

When to pick
Blueberry season runs from mid-July to the end of August. You can pick berries rain or shine, but it's best to pick them on a dry day. Pick in the early morning or in the evening, so that both you and the berries will stay cool and avoid the heat of the midday sun.

What to bring
1. You'll need a container for the berries you pick. Most farms provide containers for sale, but bring your own and save yourself some money.

2. Dress appropriately for the weather. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and water. You never know if the weather will fluctuate while you're there, so it's best to always have these essential items.

3. Some farms have highbush berries (cousins to wild blueberries), which grow on bushes that can be six to eight feet tall. To pick these berries, bring buckets. They'll come in handy, either as a seat to rest in the field, or as a platform for your container while you're reaching up into the bushes.

How to pick
Look underneath the branches and pull gently on the blueberries. Hold the cluster of barriers in the palm of your hand. Gently use your thumb to remove the berries. When they're ripe, they'll come off the plant easily.  Be careful not to pull off the berries that are still green—they're not yet ripe, but they will be in a few more days. Fully ripe berries are completely blue.

How to wash
Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to wash. Simply place them in a colander, rinse and let dry. You can also freeze the berries after they're washed. Put a single layer of washed and dried berries on a parchment paper–lined cookie sheet or baking pan, and place in the freezer. Once frozen, store in resealable plastic bags. Frozen berries can be kept for 24 months, guaranteeing access to the juicy fruit throughout the year!

Make this delicious Blueberry Cream Layer Cake for dessert tonight.


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Cooking School

Tips for picking your own blueberries