You know that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where
Veruca Salt Violet Beauregarde noshes on Willy Wonka’s three-course-dinner gum and swells up like a blueberry because she’s a gluttonous fool? For the past 10 days, that’s pretty much been my life. [Thanks, friends, for the pointing out my hopeless lack of pop-culture knowledge and correcting Violet Beauregarde’s name!]
When farmer Angela told me we’d be picking a lot of blueberries on her farm in Oregon, she wasn’t kidding. The acres of blueberry bushes here are 30-plus years old, and the farm owners have managed to keep them producing perfect, sweet, blue globes. This year, the blueberries are going to community-supported agriculture and U-pick customers—plus directly into my mouth. In years past, they’ve sold them at farmers’ markets, too.
I’m a bit of a berry connoisseur, picking up locally grown fruits pretty much everywhere I go. (Remember my fruit foraging fun in Turkey?) Having an abundant supply outside my door is dangerous. I have berries in my oatmeal at breakfast, berries and berry sauce on my crepes at lunch, and berries on my salad at dinner. Then there are the excuses to have to go through the blueberry field throughout the day. Today, I turned down a ride up the hill so I could walk through the berries on my way to build fence. It’s all berries, all the time, and I love it.
The farmers, the farm intern and I picked blueberries for about four hours the other day to fill a CSA order. This was a long time to be milling around berry bushes in a field, but it gave me time to catch up on my Hindi practice on my iPod and allowed for ample grazing. You’d think we’d have heaps and heaps of berries by this point, but picking blueberries isn’t as straightforward as it appears. Yes, you pull the blue ones off the bush and put them in your bucket—but first you have to make sure they’re actually blue. The giveaway is the stem end of the berry. The end of the stem turns blue (not green, red or purple, as you more often find) when the berry is truly ripe. I learned this lesson the first day I picked berries and found that half of my bucket was actually red, not blue. (It’s OK—the red ones are good for jam making because they contain more pectin.)
I only have one week of berry bliss left. If only these bushes were portable. I guess I’m putting blueberry bushes on my future-farm wish-list, too.