One down, Five to Go

Last Friday, I woke up at the crack of dawn. My alarm went off so early that my husband was still at home and he wandered into our bedroom wondering what in the world was I doing. What was I doing? Well, I was attempting to accomplish one of my summer goals.

Goal #6 said “Go berry picking” and at 6:30 in the morning I wasn’t looking too fondly at that goal.

The Farm

Wind Ridge Farm is a local farm that offers visitors the chance to pick fruits in season, which may mean blueberries, blackberries or peaches. The day I went, both blueberries and blackberries were scheduled to be open. They’ve been in New Melle, Missouri (just west of St. Louis) and open to the public since 1991. They were also featured this morning on Fox 2’s Tim’s Travels on KTVI St. Louis.

Picking

When I arrived at Wind Ridge Farm I had no clue what to expect. I found the entrance easily enough (thank you car in front of me for going to the same place I was) and parked on some grass around a gravel path. I saw two tents set up but overheard a couple explaining the tent closest to the road was for blueberries and the tent closer to my car was for blackberries. Since I wanted some blues, I began my quick walk to the tent.

Berry picking that day was listed as being open from 8 AM to 12 PM, or whenever the berries were picked over. I made it to the tent by 8:01 AM and the crowds were already in the bushes. The workers in the tent told me to take a bucket and head to an area where others weren’t picking, making sure to spread out. I was nervous picking berries at first, I wanted to get only the ripe ones and not damage future growth. Not everything on the branches are as blue as you might see in the store. As time went on I got better. Still, there were a lot of pickers and not too many berries. Missouri weather has been weird this year.

berrymosaic

After I (or maybe the plants) had enough, I joined the long line of people checking out. They had two registers going at a time and they took your bag from your bucket, plopped it on a scale, and told you your total. Berries here are $2.99/lb so I paid just over $5 for my nice sized haul. The family behind me had 3 buckets and hit just under $20 so you get a tremendous bang for your buck here. You can also buy some jams and honeys when you check out and all orders can be paid for with cash or check.

Berry Picking Tips

Get there early. I got there right at 8 AM and all the berries were picked by 8:30 AM. It was a moderate inventory day and even my arrival time was too late.

Learn what a ripe berry is like. I wasted my time on berries I thought were too “frosty blue” and passed on picking them. That’s right, I walked past ripe berries because they didn’t match what I saw in my supermarket. Ripe blueberries are rich and blue, not red (unless you like them tart) and have a slight give. If you pull gently on the stem they should pop right off the tree.

Split up. You want both blueberries and blackberries? Send one person to each field. You’ll have your best pick that way and avoid the heat and bugs better by getting out faster.

Bring water. 8:00 AM in Missouri is still really really hot. Think 80 degrees with 70% humidity. That means sweat, stink, and dehydration if you stay out too long. This rule should also include sunscreen, sunglasses, and comfy clothing.

Go hands free. You can’t pick berries with a purse on your arm. Purses swing and hit the berries. The pockets on my pants never seem to be deep enough to prevent my wallet from popping out when I squat or bend and there’s a lot of that picking berries. I put on my trusted baggallini and never worried if my phone or wallet were safe. (No paid ad here, just a huge fan)

Watch for open picking days. Wind Ridge Farms doesn’t stay open every day. They make sure there are enough ripe berries that the plants don’t get damaged or over-picked. Follow their Facebook page or their Twitter page for the next picking days. Right now they have one scheduled for tomorrow from 4:30-8 PM or until they are all picked. Both blueberries and blackberries will be available.

What to do with the Berries

There’s plenty to do with blueberries. I went with two approaches.

Blueberry buckle

The Blueberry Buckle: One day my husband was watching Food Network with me and saw an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats called Kinda Blue. In an all-about-blueberry overture, Alton made a blueberry buckle. It looked easy and delicious so I went to the store the next day and got the supplies and baked him one. What can I say, we were newlyweds.

Since I had over a pound of blueberries, I opted to make the buckle again. (Recipe over on Food Network) It was incredible this time. The blueberries were so much juicier and I had a sense of pride because I picked them myself. For those of you who haven’t had a buckle, it’s like a cobbler, (not so) gooey butter cake, and coffee cake in one. Highly recommended.

Fruit tray

Fruit tray: It was the 4th of July and I was going to have a fruit tray. I used some fruit dip, some puff pastry stars (steps 3-4), and some store-bought strawberries, threw it all together and called it a success. You can’t go wrong with that dish on the 4th.

I’m linking this post up to Centsational Girl’s Favorite Things in my Town Link Party. Come submit your own hometown favorites!
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Author:julie

I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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