POLK COUNTY — It’s blueberry season and the native North American berries are ready for harvest.
The blueberry season is a long one, running from April to late September, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. In Polk County, many farmers provide farm-fresh blueberries that can be carton-bought or self-harvested.
Though blueberries are available in-store, buying local supports local farmers and provides an opportunity to soak in sunshine while picking the antioxidant-dense fruit.
The u-pick options for blueberry lovers span from larger operations, such as Perryhill Farms in Dallas, who also provide cherries, peaches and apples throughout the year, to small patches run out of family yards. In Independence, a self-service blueberry patch can be found behind the Central Vision Clinic.
When picking blueberries, it’s important to keep hydrated and wear sunscreen. Similarly, to get the best berries, Pickyourown.org explains that pickers should “select plump, full blueberries with a light gray-blue color.
A berry with any hint of red isn’t fully ripened.” However, red berries will still ripen after picking, unlike white or green berries.
After harvesting, blueberries can be used for a multitude of recipes, from fruit salad and blueberry lemonade, to blueberry pies and preserves.
Blueberries are also perfect for snacking on during the car ride home from the farm.
The early harvest is coming to a close, so potential patch pickers should call ahead before heading over to ensure that a u-pick is open and ready for the next wave of fruit-picking frenzy.