In a move that would have shocked my 10-year old self, we have become a family of berry-pickers. What feels like a lifetime ago, I loaded up my 3 1/2-year old and 1-year old (my third child still a proverbial twinkle-in-the-eye), and drove to a farm about 20 miles outside of Athens, Georgia to pick strawberries. We returned each year, eventually adding blueberries to the list. Then we moved to Indiana, and for the past three years I’ve loaded up the car and driven half an hour to a berry farm on the north side of the city, once again in pursuit of short-lived farm-fresh berries.
Because that’s what you have to do when you live in a city. To pick berries, you have to load up and drive to the country.
Unless, of course, you don’t.
I could hardly believe it when an article in last week’s Indianapolis Star profiled a blueberry farm in the middle of one of the most strip-mall-plagued areas of our city. A mere 10-minutes from my house. As if that wasn’t enough to shock the berries out of my jam, the farm is also organic.
This city, I’ll tell ya. It has yet to cease to amaze me.
So last week I loaded up an 8, 6, and 3 year old, and made the very short drive to Driving Wind Blueberry Farm. We were the second car to pull up when they opened at 9am on a hot morning, hats on, buckets at-the-ready.
My kids. Minus the 3-year old, who could mostly just be expected to not pick pink berries — my kids were champions of picking. They attacked bushes independently, picking them almost entirely clean of ripe blue berries. After 45 minutes of picking, we had about 7 pounds, had picked a whole row, and had just enough time to pay and chat up the owners a bit before I had a full-fledged heat-induced trifecta-meltdown on my hands (I guess my genes finally kicked in).
And these berries. They are the best blueberries I’ve had in recent memory. Sweet, juicy, completely addictive by the handful.
We’re freezing most of them — using them all through the year in muffins, on pancakes, and in smoothies. But I experimented this week with a blueberry frozen yogurt (tastes like a frozen sweet-tart! recipe below), and have plans for a grain-free tart in coming days.
I almost didn’t post this story, because it ends with bad news for the locals: the farm is just about picked out. The shrubs are not yet mature, only 3 feet high, and the demand for the crop far outweighed supply. This weekend, the facebook page offered appointments for two final picking days, and I snatched one up as soon as I got the message (at time of posting, there were still spots available!). But even if you live near and don’t get to pick, rest assured that next year the shrubs will be an additional foot tall, with more plantings in the works. Pond-irrigated, bee-pollinated, organically-grown blueberries, up to 6 eventual acres if plans hold up.
Just what a city needs.
Recipe: Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
: makes about 1 quart
Adapted closely from a recipe in The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
The yogurt is richer when using Greek yogurt, or strained yogurt. To make your own strained yogurt: line a colander with a very thin tea towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Nest into another bowl, and pour 3 cups yogurt into the colander. Cover with a plate, and let sit on the counter or in your refrigerator for 4-6 hours. The thickened yogurt should reduce by half, giving you the amount needed for this recipe. If desired, store the leftover liquid in the bowl (whey) in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 6 weeks — it can be used for lacto-fermentation or in smoothies for extra probiotic boost.
This recipe can be made legal for the GAPS diet by using 24-hour yogurt.
- 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, greek yogurt, or strained yogurt (see note)
- 3/4 cup mild honey
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- In a blender, combine the yogurt, honey, blueberries and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. If desired, pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
- Chill completely in the refrigerator, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.