Blueberry U-Pic Florida Style
My friend Amber invited my daughter and I to go blueberry picking with her and her two boys this past weekend. I was a little surprised because we live in Florida and I didn’t know that we could pick blueberries here. The winter strawberry capitol is near us but blueberries? Who knew!
Amber took us up to Starkey Blueberry Farm in Trinity which is only about 8 miles from where we live. The farm is located in an area that no more than 10 years ago was cattle farms but now is quickly growing with houses and outdoor shopping malls.
When we drove up I swore it would be a teeny place, possibly even hydroponic. I was wrong on both counts. The farm has been there for 4 years and has approximately 44 acres of blueberry bushes. It turns out that Florida is one of the top 10 blueberry producing states in the US. The University of Florida (Go Gators!) helped created a special blueberry bush that would thrive in the Florida climate which has spurred the blueberry industry in the Sunshine State.
After checking in, learning where to head for the best bushes and washing our hands (to help prevent spreading disease) we grabbed our buckets. My daughter took a 2 lb one and I took a 5 lb one. At $5/lb for u-pick I thought that if we picked a total of 4 lbs we’d have more than enough for a bunch of different uses. Something got in our way though . . .
No Bees Aren’t Scary
After walking a little bit, we started going down the rows and picking. Although it was close to the end of the season there were plenty of blueberries on the bushes. The blueberries were big and sweet. But there was a glitch in the fun – my daughter’s fear of bees.
A boy in her class got stung earlier this year and of course it hurt so of course, he cried. Now my daughter has an fear of all things bees. A big fear. She was so scared of bees near the blueberry bushes that she had to stand outside of the rows so she wouldn’t completely lose it. We had many a discussion about how bees help the blueberries grow and that if it weren’t for bees we wouldn’t have hardly any food. We also talked about how bees don’t want to hurt you and get scared if you swat at them. Amber even told her that she’s held a bee in her hand to drink some water. But none of that was working. While I felt bad for her and tried to comfort her, the blueberries were calling and there were hardly any bees out that day. So I kept on picking.
In about 45 minutes I ended up collecting almost 2 lbs of blueberries to take home. Amber and her kids got 4.75 lbs! After cashing out the kids played on a large wooden area and then we walked over to the lawn swing they had on a pond. All in all it was a great day, bees and all. My daughter even forgot about her fear and talked about how much fun she had lol!
What to Make
Our first recipe with our haul was blueberry pancakes which were yummy. It was a great lesson to my daughter that picking your own food and then cooking with it can be so satisfying. I have plans to use the blueberries for the food I’ll be making for the Royal Wedding and also use in salads and yogurt. There are lots of recipes online for how to use blueberries – I’m even thinking about blueberry ice cream! Starkey Blueberry Farm said they have a couple weeks left of the season. I might need to head back for more!