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Adventure at the Berry Patch

August 13, 2010

Sometimes my boyfriend Matt surprises and delights me. One time, awhile back, he referred to himself as a “vegan-in-training”—AWW! Earlier this week, he said he was telling his game-night buddies on Monday about how enzymes in food die at temperatures above 118 degrees—that’s my boy! When I made lasagna recently, he asked if I had any nutritional yeast he could put on it—is that the most precious thing in the world, or what?!

I’d mentioned offhand once that I’d been wanting/intending to go to a U-Pick berry farm for the last three or four summers, and still hadn’t made it. One Friday night, he suggested we get up early the next morning and go pick berries together! I am a lucky girl.

The farm I’d always had my eye on is called the Berry Patch, purported to be “Missouri’s Berry Best!” They have an adorable little website, and – get this – a “picking report” hotline! Ahh, it’s so cute I could die! Anyway, we got up slightly later than planned, but arrived at the farm shortly after 8:30. Here we are, ready for some berry-pickin’ fun!

We got our buckets, plastic baggies, and twine from the folks at this building, which also housed their general store.

This large, charmingly painted board contained all the instructions and advice we needed.

I was attired in my farmgirl best, a $3-on-clearance dress I’d been waiting for an occasion to wear. The Berry Patch is actually on the Missouri side of State Line Road, but throw a rock across the street and it would land in Kansas, so I figured my Dorothy-esque outfit was appropriate. Besides, then I could say in full sarcastic honesty that “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

We headed to the blackberry patch first, because blackberries are my favorite. We initially encountered underripe berries like these, but soon moved to the back of the patch to find ripe ones.

Blackberry bushes are PRICKLY! I ended up with scratches all over my arm. The temperature was also climbing this entire time, and we were in the blackberry patch longer than expected. Sweat had starting beading up right away, and by 20 minutes into it, it was dripping off my nose and chin. Gross, right? Soon sweat was stinging my eyes and saturating my pigtails, but we doggedly continued. Berries or bust! Matt stuck to picking the ripest berries only, while I was less discriminating.

After TWO HOURS among the blackberries, sweating like pigs and dodging bugs and bees, we called it quits and moved on to the blueberries. Once again, we ran into bushes with very underripe berries before we found the ripe ones.

The blueberry bushes were kinder to our skin, at least, and the picking seemed to go faster. It took us half the time to gather as many blueberries as we had blackberries.

By then, we had been out in the sun and the almost-100-degree heat and humidity for close to 3 hours. Both straps on my $3 dress had snapped. We were hot, thirsty, and just plain tired when we finally returned to the car, not to mention so sweaty it looked like we’d been swimming. I hesitate greatly to post this picture, because besides being disgustingly sweaty, I didn’t have on any makeup to begin with, and I look thoroughly miserable, but I’m keepin’ it real, so here you go.

The air conditioning back in the general store felt like a miracle. We briefly browsed their products – jam, jelly, pickles, salsa, hot sauce, olives, honey, and more – and said hello to the bees before checking out.

Our berry haul was impressive (to me): just over four pounds each of blackberries and blueberries. Wanna know how much we paid for all that? $23. Hell yeah! That alone made the sweat and toil worth it. As soon as we got home, we washed them all, and separated the fully ripe blackberries from the slightly underripe ones.

I put the ripe ones in the fridge for us to eat raw, and froze the underripe (i.e. less sweet) ones to use later in pies, cobblers, etc. We separated and stored the bloobs (blueberries) in the same fashion.

The moral of the story is that berries you hand-picked yourself and got for dirt-cheap are infinitely more delicious than storebought berries from lands far away.

The other moral of the story is that I may just have the sweetest boyfriend ever—at least as sweet as (and maybe more so than) these beautiful berries.

Have you ever been to a U-Pick farm? What was your experience like?
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Use fresh blackberries in:
Quick blackberry cobbler
Mini berry cobblers
Use fresh blueberries in:
Blueberry crumb bars
Quick blueberry compote
Blueberry cornbread muffins
Homestyle blueberry cobbler

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 2:02 pm

    AWWW that is so cute of Matt. I can’t believe he’s so well-versed in all that foodie terminology and info! I remember when my boyfriend became a vegetarian for a week, and then on the last day, he accidentally ate a tiny bit of clam chowder that spilled onto his food LOL. Anyway, what a sweetheart for taking you to go berry-picking–there’s nothing that says love more than sweaty bodies and prickly bushes! (Wow that sounded wrong HAHA.)

    I’ve only been cherry picking before. It was pretty expensive per lb, but I guess the price takes into account all of the cherries we snacked on while picking. Fresh, yummy hand-picked fruit is definitely worth it though! Can’t wait to see what you’ll be making with your stash! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:36 am

      Hehe, it IS cute, isn’t it?! To a point, it’s kind of hard for him to avoid learning about that foodie stuff (since I blabber about it day in and day out), but he deserves the lion’s share of the credit for being a good listener and a knowledge sponge :]

      That’s funny about your bf…so the clam chowder was his gateway drug back to carnivory? Hehe.

      Sweaty bodies and prickly bushes—HAHAHA! Ok, you made me LOL with that one, and I am not typically a LOLer 😛

  2. August 13, 2010 2:23 pm

    I want to go a u-pick-it horribly, but I have an irrational fear of insects (phobia). 😦 I have the feeling I would be running around screaming more than I would be picking.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:42 am

      Ah, I understand. I hate to tell you this, but I did dodge my share of bugs, bees, and other flying insects. One bee/wasp in particular was really harassing me for awhile, and there were a number of times where I stopped in my tracks, squeezed my eyes shut, and squealed to alert Matt that I needed saving.

      There might be an alternative for you, though, if it’s the berries (rather than the experience) you’re most interested in—the Berry Patch store also sells already-picked berries for just a few cents more per pound than the ones you pick yourself.

  3. August 13, 2010 2:56 pm

    That looks like so much fun! We have a berry patch here that we’ve been meaning to take our boys to, but they are only open on certain days during the week and not on weekends. Hopefully we’ll get to go there some day!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:44 am

      That’s too bad it’s not open on weekends! I hope you do get to make it there someday :]

  4. Matt permalink
    August 13, 2010 7:22 pm

    Now I’m blushing. Twas a pittance compared to what you do for me.

    Nothing’s sweeter than a bloob plucked by my girl Amber. And she looked darling even while sweating under the blazing summer sun.

    -M

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:47 am

      Aww. Without a honey bear there to commiserate with me in the heat, chase away bugs and bees, let me wipe my sweaty face on his shirt, and help me spot the biggest, plumpest berries, I would only have had a fraction of the fun. Thank you again! :*

  5. August 13, 2010 8:24 pm

    Awww, I want one! Even if he was a third as sweet and awesome as Matt, I’d be happy.

    I used to go berry-picking with ym family when I was a little kid, but the drought put our nearest berry farms out of business 😦 Stupid decade-long drought.

    Oh, and want to know about how much four pounds of blackberries would cost here in Australia, even buying them in season, from the supermarket? About $85. HURTS.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:50 am

      $85?! That’s criminal :[

      I am confident that it’s just a matter of time before you find a sweetheart who will, though berry-picking may be out of the question, love and adore you and treat you like the brainy beauty you are 😀

  6. Amy permalink
    August 13, 2010 9:40 pm

    I took my 6 year old blueberry picking yesterday. My husband would never go- he won’t even try a blueberry let alone go with me to pick them. You are blessed. Anyway we were there about an hour and picked almost 4 lbs for $8.87! My son’s snack tonight? almost 2whole cups of blueberries, he wanted more but I cut him off! Your dress is too cute!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:52 am

      Your husband won’t eat blueberries!? Well he simply has no idea what he is missing!

      That’s great that you took your son; I’m glad you two had fun! And I can imagine how proud it must make you to hear your boy ask for and enjoy such a healthy snack :]

  7. August 15, 2010 5:36 pm

    Oooo…those berries look wonderful! I must go there sometime!
    I have been cherry picking in Wisconsin and I had a blast doing it! Of course, the weather is a LOT more tolerable up there. I’m not a fan of cherries, but I could pick them forever. 🙂
    (And cherry trees are very kind to your skin. 😉 )

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:53 am

      Cherry-picking would be fun! I bet I could make you a cherry pie you’d like ;]

  8. August 15, 2010 5:37 pm

    Oh! And I meant to say I love your “Dorothy” dress! Adorable!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:53 am

      Hehe, thanks! Too bad I can never wear it again =/

  9. Mom permalink
    August 15, 2010 10:26 pm

    I, too, love your dress. It’s too cute! That’s a long time out in that hot summer 100 degree sun. Hope you had your sunscreen (just like a mom, huh?) :o)

    The berries look beautiful. I’ll have to make sure Nanny tunes in to this post (and more, of course)!

    Thank you, Matt, for accompanying Amber and making it special in more ways than one!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 9:55 am

      Yes, lots of sunscreen (always). Besides my scalp (down my part), I didn’t get burned. At least I have a lot of [cheap] berries to show for all the sweating.

  10. August 16, 2010 1:18 pm

    Whoa, you weren’t kidding about the soggy pigtails! You poor, sweaty thing! At least you got to enjoy the FRUITS of your LABOR. (har har)

    I’ve never been berry picking, but I have been apple picking, which is a lot of fun. Once I get into the apple-picking groove, I can easily end up with many pounds of apples.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 16, 2010 1:21 pm

      Ooh, I’ve never been apple-picking but I definitely want to sometime! I think the Berry Patch has U-Pick apples in the fall…must look into that.

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