Picking Blueberries

My family went to pick some blueberries recently and I just thought I should write a post about the activity. Since last year, picking blueberries has become one of my family’s favorite summer activities. Picking blueberries is an easy, inexpensive activity that is not very time-consuming or tiring. Perhaps more importantly, blueberries are also touted for various health benefits, and they can be delicious too.

Before the summer of last year, I didn’t like blueberries at all. The ones my family bought from the supermarket were mostly sour, and in addition they had a weird taste to them. My dislike for blueberries ended last summer when there was a bumper crop of blueberries in the Lower Mainland region. We never picked blueberries before and we decided to give it a try. It was then that we discovered that not all blueberries taste bad, and some of them can be quite good. We were hooked from the last year’s experience, and when blueberry season came along we were rearing to go.

A row in the blueberry farm
A row in the blueberry farm. Usually you can get enough blueberries by just going down one row.

Thanks to the growing popularity of the fruit and the climate of the region, there are a lot of blueberry farms in and around the Lower Mainland. We went to one that is along No. 6 road in Richmond. The segment of No. 6 road between Westminster Hwy. and Steveston Hwy. has quite a few blueberry farms on the west side of the road that let people pick their own berries (the so called “u-pick”). Prices are different from farm to farm, but the cheapest is not necessarily the best option. First of all, the quality of the blueberries is very important. Good blueberries are delicious but bad blueberries are awful, so it’s better to go to a farm with a better quality product even if it costs a bit more per pound. Secondly, some farms have minimum amounts and other rules, and I suggest you ask first before picking. The price for u-pick isn’t necessarily the cheapest; sometimes even retail stores have lower prices. However, if you think about it, picking blueberries is still a good deal because you can eat blueberries *for free* while picking them. After a bit of trial and error, we eventually settled for a farm that has big and tasty blueberries and no restrictions. Their prices weren’t the lowest, but the pros makes up for this con. Besides, I tend to eat a lot during picking and that helps to make up the price difference :lol: .

Blueberry bush
Here is what a blueberry bush looks like.

Back to this year, this was our second time picking blueberries for the year. We went once about a week or two ago, and that turned out to be a little too early. Most of the blueberries weren’t ripe (they were green or red), and so we had to settle for the whatever ripe ones there were, regardless of their size. The ones we picked weren’t too sweet, and I had to add ice cream to eat them. Thankfully, things improved a lot this time around, and there were a lot of ripe and big blueberries. The fruits aren’t as sweet as the ones we picked at the end of last summer, but most of them aren’t sour. When ripe blueberries are plentiful, we usually go for the biggest ones and avoid the ones that are unripe (red) or overly ripe. Blueberry bushes are usually grown in rows, and to get to the biggest berries we like to go to the innermost rows of the farm where most people don’t go. It takes a little more walking, but the larger blueberries are worth the effort.

Blueberries on the bush zoomed-in
A closer shot of some blueberries on the bush.

As I mentioned before, picking blueberries is an easy activity. The good thing about blueberries is that their bushes are around a person’s height (4-7ft tall), so you don’t have to bend down to pick them if you don’t want to. I usually just ignore anything below my waist level, but since I’m relatively tall I like to reach up for the high ones. The size of the berries have nothing to do with the height they are located, but sometimes I find bigger ones up top because there aren’t many tall people picking blueberries. In my family, I tend to have the largest average size for picked berries, but on the other hand I tend to pick the smallest number because I spend too much time choosing and eating. On this day I still had a decent amount though, having filled over half of my bowl in around 45 minutes. Of course, my other family members still picked more than I did.

My blueberries for the day
Here are the berries I picked at the end of the day. It's not a lot, but it's high quality (at least that's what I think).

In total, my family picked quite a bit of blueberries, and it’ll take us at least a week to consume them all. I find picking blueberries to be an enjoyable activity, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to go pick blueberries once more before I leave for grad school.

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