When we lived in Michigan, we loved to pick strawberries in early June. Not only would we get a ton of strawberries freshly picked, but we also had lots of fun picking with friends.
While, you may not have strawberry picking in your part of the country (I don't now), there are likely other fun options for produce that you can pick this summer.
Here are seven tips for berry picking:
- Find a local Pick-Your-Own farm. Check this site to find a local farm near you. Plus, you can check the harvest calendar for your state for an idea of when you can pick each crop.
- Call ahead to the farm. Be sure to verify whether the berry crops are in-season at your farm, whether you need to bring your own containers and what methods of payment they accept. Our local strawberry farm sent out multiple e-mails throughout the season with updates on the crop, provided cardboard containers and they also accepted debit/credit cards for payments above a certain amount.
- Ask the farm for the best areas for picking. Our strawberry farm would direct cars to the areas where the plants were not yet picked out. Find an area with lots of firm, plump berries and start picking. The ripe ones should come right off the plant.
- Have an idea of how many berries you need. Although I love fresh berries, you don't want to end up with way more than you can use. Have an idea of how many berries you need and try to stick to that amount. Be sure to monitor your kids so you don't end up with way more than you need.
- Plan your recipes. Going along with knowing how many berries you need, you'll also want to plan how you'll use the berries once you get them home. You'll probably want to shop for additional ingredients ahead of time and also make sure you have enough time set aside to make your recipes.
- Use your berries quickly. Fresh berries are best within a day or two (or a few days longer in the fridge), so you'll want to make sure you use them quickly or freeze them for later use.
- Flash freeze berries. If you plan to freeze your berries for the future (like smoothies), you'll want to wash them, hull them (for strawberries), let them dry completely, and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer until they are frozen. Then, you can put them in a bag for the future. This way, they won't freeze in a huge clump and you can pull out what you need.