A Dietitian in the Field
Jenn’s Raspberry U-Pick Adventure
Nothing says summer like a visit to a u-pick berry patch. I love supporting local agriculture, and since I have a raspberry u-pick in my neighbourhood, and well, raspberries are one of my favourite berries, isn’t that a handy thing? I decided today was the perfect day for this dietitian to visit a local raspberry u-pick to “get my hands on local” and pick some berries.
I was met by one of the owners of High Ridge Farm and Forest Raspberry U-Pick, Kevin Hudson. He provided me with helpful hints for picking, some boxes and directions to my row. And oh my. A vision in red waited!
The people you meet
I inevitably run into someone I know at the berry patch, regardless of which berry I happen to be picking. And that was the case today. It’s always a treat to run into someone you haven’t seen in a while and catch up on the news. But it’s also interesting to meet new people at a u-pick. There is something uniquely bonding about being in a quiet field of fruit. Perhaps it’s the sticky red fingers and the desire to find the perfect berry.
Kevin said one of the best parts of running a raspberry u-pick is all the people he meets. Given that he and his wife Darlene have been running the place for 8 years, I suspect it’s safe to say they have met a lot of people.
Boxes and boxes of berries
My goal for the morning was 16 boxes. I had plans to freeze most of the raspberries I picked so when the winter wind is howling, I can remind myself that summer will come again! But, once in the field and seeing ALL THE BERRIES, I have to admit, greed got the better of me. I couldn’t stop picking.
I finished off my first row and asked for second. Kevin took me to different section of the field where another variety of raspberry grows. The berries in my first row were Killarney. I probably should have asked if there was any blarney with the Killarney, but I wasn’t that sharp at 9 am! Since I forgot to ask, and I needed to know, I did look up where Killarney raspberries originated. I thought the name was a clue, but I was proven wrong. All information indicates they come from Manitoba.
My second row was filled with Encore berries. They are the lovliest shade of pinky-red. Kevin said because they are not the usual red of raspberries, I might have to taste them to tell which ones were ripe. Awww. Twist my rubber arm. It’s probably a good thing he doesn’t sell the berries by the pound… or require u-pickers to do a pre-picking weigh in. I’ll admit to tasting a few (or more) before I figured out what the “really” ripe ones looked like.
Saving the season: raspberries
Freeze raspberries on sheet pans and store in freezer safe containers. Make sure to label and date the container. Frozen berries can be used in smoothies, oatmeal or just eaten by the handful.
Ingenuity = easier picking
Darlene kindly provides pickers with a container to hang around the neck, so you can use both hands to pick the berries. Since these little gems hide under leaves, this is a brillant tool. I watched her make many trips back and forth from the field bringing freshly sanitized containers for pickers to use.
Me, I’m a hold out to 1 handed picking. I balance the box in one arm or on my lap and peer up through the leaves to chase down the raspberries.
“The hardest part of owning a raspberry field is dealing with Mother Nature, from insects and wild life to weather.” Kevin Hudson
Enjoying local raspberries
“Now that I think on it, the most unique way I guess I’ve had raspberries is in raspberry wine.” Kevin Hudson
I know how this dietitian enjoys raspberries, but how does someone who spends hours and hours living with the ups and downs of growning raspberries answer that question?
I had to know, and hoped I wasn’t going to receive the answer of “I don’t eat them”.
Fortunately, Kevin didn’t tell me that. He said he is fairly ordinary in his enjoyment of raspberries (I did ask him what’s the most unique way he’s ever eaten them). He said his favourite, hands down is raspberry pie, and his wife Darlene provided me with her secret raspberry pie ingredient. She says it guarantees the pie will set so you can cut the perfect piece and not have raspberry juice running all over your plate. I can’t wait to try it. And no, I’m not telling you the secret ingredient. That’s not my secret to share.
Raspberries on my table
The final count of boxes for my efforts at the raspberry u-pick was 24. That’s a lot of berries, yes, but there are so, so many ways to enjoy this fruit.
I did share a couple of boxes with both my mom and mother-in-law. (That made me feel slightly less greedy). My breakfast for the next few days will feature those fresh raspberries – in a yogurt and granola bowl, on top of French toast and just out of a bowl, perhaps with milk poured over them.
As winter passes, I’ll enjoy reaching for those frozen raspberries to put on my cereal, stir into my oatmeal or make into a raspberry crumble, perhaps mixed with some of the other berries I freeze as the summer passes. Having frozen fruit makes it easier to add a handful and fill half my plate with fruit at meal time.
High Ridge Farm and Forest had one last surprise to find. Peter and I are lovers of all old vehicles. Imagine my delight when I noticed this gem hidden not under the leaves of the raspberry canes, but under the branches of a crab apple tree. I couldn’t resist taking a shot of this fabulous old truck.
Go on a U-pick Adventure
I had the best time today. Meeting Kevin and Darlene, learning about their U-pick, and of course, picking raspberries. I can’t wait to get home and start enjoying my harvest.
I hope you can find a u-pick in your neck of the woods. There is nothing like picking your own fruit. If you have never picked your own fruit right from the field, do an internet search for u-picks in your area. You might be surprised at the agriculture that’s happening in your neighbourhood. A visit to a local u-pick is an outing that creates a memorable experience and perhaps a new food tradition, never mind the fact that you will get the freshest local produce going.