PYO happiness

Posted on July 31st, 2008 – 8:31 AM
By Robyn Dochterman

Are you a fan of PYO produce? If you already know that stands for “Pick Your Own,” you probably are. I’ve been out to two berry farms near me, the Berry Patch and Natura Farms this summer. I’ve picked strawberries, red and black currants, blueberries, and just this week, black and purple raspberries. If I’m living right, I’ll also get to pick blackberries before the end of the summer, too.

Do you have a favorite place to pick berries? Have you been out yet this summer? Strawberries are over, of course, but there are still some raspberries and blueberries to be had out there.

I take special delight in heading off down a row, bucket swinging off my arm. There must be some innate joy in foraging food, as I get practically giddy when I find big berries others have missed. Folks of all ilk show up beside you and you can eavesdrop on some seriously strange conversations (note to the woman picking blueberries last Sunday — your friend really did not want you to describe in exacting detail the pregnancy video you offered to loan her).

The best part, of course, is figuring out what to do with your bounty once you get it home. Did you see Amy Thielen’s story on making jam, along with an audio slide show?

Are you a jam-maker (freezer or canned)? A jelly aficionado? We’ve made both at my house this summer (raspberry jam, blueberry jam, currant jelly). And frozen both juice and whole berries. This year, for the first time, I’m also trying to dehydrate some berries for use in breads later. Have you done that? Have any suggestions to share?

12 Responses to "PYO happiness"

Chris says:

July 31st, 2008 at 8:40 am

I pick strawberries at Aplle Jack Ordchards in Delano. We eat alot of them and than freeze them on a cookie sheet, bag them up and eat frozen when its really hot. Like now. We pick there 4 -5 times a year. Apple are good there too.

sarah d says:

July 31st, 2008 at 9:53 am

I usually pick at Afton Apple and also participate in their blueberry, cherry, peach program. This year the cherries crop was bad for MI and Door County, but I got my blueberries.

I love making jam and also freeze my berries for use all year long.

Amy F says:

July 31st, 2008 at 10:21 am

I just picked raspberries and blueberries at a PYO farm in Stacy yesterday with my four year old. Got a gallon of each for $25 total. We didn’t make it to strawberries this year, but hope to return for fall raspberries and apples in September.

I’ve made all my own jam for 2 or 3 years now. I make a lot of rhubarb because it’s free, saving and freezing the PYO berries for other things. Last year, we did PYO strawberries and the year before we did raspberries. It’s tricky with a toddler — babies can be worn and 3 year olds+ can be trusted to eat and not run away, but I need a child-watching adult (who doesn’t expect to pick much) for any 1 or 2 year olds. Hence, we tend to only get out once or twice a year (my two year old stayed home this week). Apple picking works well with any ages, though.

Anyway, I either can jam or freeze whole berries. I’m thinking about getting a dehydrator — I hadn’t thought about dehydrating berries. Interesting idea.

Robyn Dochterman says:

July 31st, 2008 at 11:08 am

Sarah d, what is the blueberry, cherry and peach program at Afton? We order a box of peaches from a place in Colorado each year. And I know that Cooks of Crocus Hill has crop share boxes of fruit, too. Is it like that? How expensive is it, may I ask?

sabrina says:

August 1st, 2008 at 6:21 am

When I was a kid we’d pyo strawberries at a place in wi. I like going to pumpkin patches & finding the perfect one. I want to go to an apple orchard this fall… Last weekend I had the nieces & nephew over to PYO raspberries at my house – it worked out well for everyone. I just tried making & canning jam for the first time last night! It was a project, I should have been more prepared. But from picking the berries to ignoring the jars on the counter took less than 2 hours so it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll try some this weekend to see how I did. Normally I just infuse vodka and freeze whole berries. I like the frozen fruit – very easy to use.

sarah d says:

August 1st, 2008 at 11:43 am

Hi Robyn:

Afton Apple Orchard usually sells 10lb boxes of blueberries (@$30.00), tart, rainer and sweet cherrier (@$30.00) and peaches (@$30.00). I think all the fruit comes from MI. We just picked up our blueberries and our peaches come in August. This is the first year I’ve ordered peaches and I’m glad I did since we don’t have a cherry crop this year. I think Apple Jax may do this too.

Robyn Dochterman says:

August 1st, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for the info. When I was a kid, my mom used to buy things like peaches for canning in “lugs” — which is a box weighing 18 pounds, I think. I almost never hear that word anymore, but when I do, it makes me smile.

robin says:

August 1st, 2008 at 3:47 pm

from working at a grocery store- the Colorado peaches come in lugs. They should be hitting the stores about now. Much more flavorful than the other peaches, but usually only sold by the lug (case).

Michele says:

August 2nd, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Oh man oh man. . . Thanks for the Afton Apple tip on peaches. I was in Colorado last week and ate some fabulous western slope peaches. Then I started dreaming about the Michigan peaches and the times I’ve driven through Michigan during peach season and the air was ripe with peach smell. I’m getting a box of peaches!

debw says:

August 4th, 2008 at 7:48 am

Does one just head for the Rainbow or Cub and ask for one or do you need to visit your local small independent grocer types? I haven’t seen a lug or bushel of anything in eons except at the farmers market.

erin says:

August 4th, 2008 at 10:22 am

Cub, Rainbow and Byerly’s will have lugs of peaches and pears in the next few weeks. Some years they sell fast so it doesn’t hurt to call the produce manager and ask about them. I can both peaches and pears. It’s not cost efficient, but nothing is better than a home canned jar of peaches in January.

brambles says:

August 8th, 2008 at 5:40 pm

PYO strawberries were reasonably priced at Applewood Orchard in Lakeville; I haven’t looked at their raspberries yet.

I’m waiting for Colorado peaches; Bob’s Produce Ranch in Fridley has them but they usually require a bank loan to buy them there. My Cub store is expecting them next week. I’ll buy at least one case (17-20#); lots of jam, butter, and honey to make and can.