Tell Aunt Laura To Get the Pie Dough Ready, July 10th Is National Blueberry Picking Day

MNStudio /
MNStudio /

Friday, July 10th isn’t a special day to many people, but it should be. For years, one of the great American traditions was getting out of the city or the suburbs for an afternoon and heading to the country. The small farmer’s stands along the side of the road always had fresh corn, peaches, or watermelon. While that was a fun stop, there was another spot that was the focus that we now overlook.

“You-pick-it” farms are where many kids learn more about the dexterity of their fingers. Both strawberries and raspberries take a special touch to pluck the ripe berries and a proper twist to get them off cleanly. Given how difficult these berries can be to get right, it’s not ideal for the really little ones. Additionally, these berries are some of the most common for someone to be unknowingly allergic. and they don’t have that flexibility of use when you get them home.

Blueberries, on the other hand, are the perfect fruit to pick without help. They pop right off and are clearly either not ready, perfect, or past ready. They make it incredibly obvious by their color, texture, and, as a last resort odor, as to their status of ripeness. Kids learn quickly and easily how to tell them apart, and how to select the right ones.

The farms that grow these blueberries know exactly what they are doing for their location, clientele, and the work they want to put into each bush. In the US, five varieties are the most common – lowbush, northern highbush, southern highbush, rabbit-eye, and half-high. Of these, the highbush is the variety you are most likely to encounter in your supermarket or when picking your own.

A very resilient berry, the highbush self-pollinates every year, and through crossbreeding easily produces larger and juicer berries over the years. The need to be pollinated and need specific cultivators have made the rabbit-eye and lowbush cultivators not as popular over the years. While a delicious berry, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze (so to speak).

Of these, some sub-cultivators can help discern exactly how tart or sweet the berry will be, how tough or thin the skin will grow, and how long it will take for proper harvest. These little differences make a big difference between snacking and pie blueberries.

These farms oftentimes have other attractions, too. Petting zoos, tractor rides, and a small gift shop are not outside the realm of possibilities. With many of the farmers are parents themselves, they know how easily little ones become “done” with the idea of doing something. They also know how badly you’ll want to remember this day, and they ensure you do.

One of the best parts about these farms is learning that if you have even a small yard you can cultivate some of your own berries. While not the easiest thing to get going, with the highbush variety specifically, you could be up and running in a relatively easy manner. Knowing that you’ll likely not turn into a competition, many farmers are happy to talk to you about growing your own, too.

For adults, picking these blueberries can not only be therapeutic, but it can also be an exercise in getting the right berries to make fresh blueberry wine. It’s a hard lesson but once you learn, it pays off. This delicious, sweet, and crisp wine is perfect to make with many of the blueberry varieties you can harvest at these farms. This project also stores very well, and the people who you choose to share it with will treasure it.

This year, make your July 10th a memorable one. Get out there with your loved ones and pick some blueberries. Get home, wash them off, towel dry them, and enjoy – either freshly washed by themselves, sprinkled on a salad, or in a baked good. This is one antioxidant-dense fruit you cannot go wrong with.