Wild Grapes on the Ranch

Wild Grapes on the Ranch
Wild Grapes on the Ranch

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Joys of Eating in Season Series


As 6AM rolled around I was excited to hop out of bed this morning! I jumped in my car and drove the 11 miles to the town of Corning, CA, my hometown, to do something totally new to me…pick Blueberries! A few days ago a sign appeared on the corner of Houghton and South Avenue that boldly announced, “u-pick Blueberries”.  I was elated to see such a novel proposition in Corning. When my sister called last night to invite me to go with her this AM I was thrilled! We arrived at the site not having any idea what was in store for us except for a few helpful hints from some relatives who had been going daily to pick there. One, go EARLY! Less people and the berries are firmer as is the case with most harvesting. Two, pick from underneath the plants where the berries are bigger, juicier and firmer.

We grabbed ourselves a bucket, which we informed we should fill up for $5. They are easy to pick with no thorns unlike our other summer favorite, Blackberries! My sister and I have made a yearly ritual of picking blackberries from my property here in Vina for which we make an incredible blackberry apricot jam. YUM!

After we heaped out buckets we paid up to the very nice lady in charge and headed home with our blueberry bounty in hand. I was able to layer 4 cookie sheets for freezing, fill up a normal sized clamshell and make smoothies for my family for $5! That’s amazing!

I probably don’t need to mention the benefits of eating fresh blueberries but I will anyways just for giggles. The antioxidant content is VERY high, and even more so from a right-off-the-bush berry! They are great from curbing those “sweet” craving and wont fill your blood with all those nasty sugars like high fructose corn syrup ( the Bain of our existence, buts that a whole other article!) and refined white sugar.

As I sit here drinking my smoothie I am elated to know I am supporting farmers in their pursuit of supplying the community with healthy and delicious food. It is becoming increasingly harder for small family owned farms such as this one to survive. With the government under pressure to subsidize soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton, these small fruit and veggie farmers get no support. Jack Hedin in an article in the New York Times weaves an interesting story about the woes of these farmers in this article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/01/opinion/01hedin.html.

Fresh Blueberry Smoothies

The following is the recipe I used this morning to create these delicious smoothies I am drinking as I write this.

Fresh Blueberry Smoothies
Make a whole pitcher.
1-2 cups blueberries
½ cup Frozen blackberries (optional)
1 cup of yogurt, any flavor, but I chose Tillamook’s Blackberry Pomegranate.
Ice to top of pitcher and fill with milk

Blend until smooth and enjoy! It makes a very subtle beverage with a beautiful color!

Eating in season is easy here in Northern California with something ripe for the picking 365 days of the year! Please let me know if you find any other great u-pick places! I’m hooked!

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