Looking for a fun outdoor activity to do with the kids? The summer is the ideal time to visit local farms to pick your favorite berries. We are very fortunate to live in Northwestern, PA. There are over a dozen farms within 25 miles that offer “pick your own” fruits and vegetables. July is the perfect time to take advantage of ripening season for blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Record high temperatures in late winter and early Spring, have resulted in an earlier than usual harvest.
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are considered to be the mightiest of the Super foods. Scientific studies have concluded they contain high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and the ability to slow the aging process, which has catapulted these potent berries into super food status. Their rich supply of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, also help reduce cholesterol and therefore, prevent heart disease.
Before heading out to the local farm, make sure you are prepared. Between travel and picking time it could be an all day event or at the very least a couple of hours. Pack a cooler with lunch, snacks, and water. Most likely, you will go on a beautiful summer day, so be sure to have plenty of sunblock and hats for you and the kids. There’s no easy way to dodge the intense rays of the sun while out in the picking fields. Remember to pick berries that are uniform in their color, plump, fragrant, and without bruises.
Soon after you arrive back home, divide the berries up for storage. Wash only the fresh picked berries you wish to use right away. The berries you don’t intend to use should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer immediately. Use an all natural fruit and vegetable wash available in convenient spray bottles at most grocery stores. These natural sprays safely remove waxes, chemicals, and soil. Lay the berries out on paper towels to dry. Store the washed blueberries and blackberries in separate colanders lined with paper towels in the refrigerator. This will allow the cold air to keep the berries fresh. Raspberries are the most perishable of the three berries. It is important to rinse them off gently under low water pressure. After they are dry, place them on a plate covered with plastic wrap. Raspberries can last 1-2 days in the refrigerator. Try not to leave them at room temperature or exposed to the sunlight for too long, this will cause them to spoil quickly.
Berries are a wonderful snack on their own. They are also a great complement to breads, cakes, pies, cereals, cobblers, crisps, smoothies, and yogurt. Here is an easy and delicious dessert recipe using my two favorite berries. https://www.pronutritionconsulting.com/recipes/double-berry-crisp
For information on nearby farms where you can pick your favorite berries visit www.PickYourOwn.Org