Blueberries and summer Raspberries are ripe.
Last week I woke up at 6:30am, Dean watched L. and J. and I went berry picking.
1 hour equals 9 lbs of blueberries and a quart of raspberries.
One of the reasons I mention this is not to do a blog diary of my life (although I do sometimes), but because storing food has many benefits.
1. It's cheaper if you do it yourself. Having your own bushes are cheapest, but finding a local grower and picking your own is a cheap alternative. These blueberries cost $1.50/lb. Occasionally Walmart or Aldis will have something similar for a few weeks late in the season, but those products will have been picked early (loosing vital time sweetening) and be on the very edge of freshness (if not well past good eating).
2. It's fresher if you do it yourself. See #1. Growers pick many berries before they are completely ripe and let them color as they travel. Other berries get picked at peak ripeness and then have to travel to market. Nothing is as fresh as something you picked this morning.
3. It's sweeter if you do it yourself. See #1 & #2. You pick only the freshest, sweetest berries.
4. You choose your favorites. If you only want the largest, most perfect berries for a perfect company dessert...you can have that. Store, and even most farmer's markets, choose which are sold together. You can find the best pack, but you can't pick individual berries.
5. You have healthy, cost-effective food choices all year long. People often say unhealthy foods are cheap, healthy foods are expensive (especially organic or natural foods). One of the reasons for this is that healthy foods are shipped for fresh eating (expensive gas). Another is that unhealthy foods are processed and stored, thus making them cheap for the company to buy in season and produce all year. Become your own production plant! Buy cheap, wash, flash-freeze, and store!
6. Frozen berries are a special treat. For kids that balk at fruits and vegetables, frozen fruit is like a sugar popsicle. Frozen strawberries, juice, and yogurt smoothies make a great breakfast or natural dessert.
So that's my soapbox. Do yourself a favor and pick some berries. Show your kids what ripe berries look and feel like. Eat some. Process them together. Freeze. And Enjoy them all through the year.