I have a confession to make. I am a pusher — of blueberries.
As the month of June arrives, I always anticipate the berry picking season. It's such a simple pleasure, I feel compelled to share it with friends. Blueberries in the South grow on tall, fat bushes like this one (photo courtesy Nesbit Blueberry Plantation). What's more, the fruit is so evenly dispersed throughout the shrub — minus any stickers or pests — that the picking is a pleasure, whether you're 6 or 60. My son and I have gone blueberry picking almost every year for the past decade, usually with another family in tow. And I don't think anyone's ever gone away disappointed.
Children like having traditions they can look forward to each season. In New England, where I lived for a time, fall meant apple picking. Just anticipating the fragrance of those sweet Macintosh orchards made me happy. When I eventually came South, I knew I'd have to find another tradition that was tied to the land, one my boy and I could enjoy each year. Blueberries sufficied, wonderfully.
Perhaps your family can start a tradition, too. Pay a visit to the Nesbit Blueberry Plantation in Nesbit, Mississippi (about 45-minutes from Memphis, at the Nesbit exit off I-55), and spend an hour or two plucking berries from the vine. The farm supplies white buckets for picking, you supply the labor (best done in long sleeves and a hat) and memories. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. • $12 a gallon or $19 a gallon for prepick.
One handy tip: Freeze your bounty by pouring berries onto a baking sheet. Shake it to disperse the fruit evenly, then place in the freezer. Once you pull out the tray, store the berries in a large plastic bag in the freezer. The fruit will keep for up to one year, and once thawed, is the perfect addition to oatmeal, yogurt, or a fruit salad.
What are some traditions your family looks forward to?