When I was a young child, I lived in a small town in New Hampshire. One of my favorite memories from those years is of going out into the wilds with my mother and picking berries. We picked wild strawberries every Summer and made strawberry shortcake. We picked wild raspberries, too, One year, we picked a lot of chokecherries and my mom made chokecherry jelly. Chokecherries are incredibly sour, but if you add enough sugar to them, they make delicious jelly.
When I was eight years old, we moved from a small town in New Hampshire to a big city in Florida. My mom was still one to look for wild berries and we found plenty of blackberries in the field behind our neighborhood convenience store. We spent some wonderful days out in that field, gathering berries and taking them home to make them into blackberry cobbler. Our big city did not have wild blueberries or strawberries, so we looked on the outskirts of town for U-pick farms. We used to go for long hours and pick pounds and pounds of berries to take home and freeze for later baking sprees. Back then, that was the economical way to acquire lots of berries when they were in season.
Can someone tell me when the U-pick farms started charging people more to pick berries themselves than to buy them in the grocery store? In what universe does this make sense? If I’m doing the work of picking the berries, I expect to get a break on the price. That’s how it worked when I was young. Picking is work. I do it and that saves you the expense of paying someone else to do it.
They have built houses in the field behind the old convenience store, so I don’t know where to go to pick wild berries any more. I also refuse to pay more to pick them at a U-pick farm than to buy them, already picked and boxed, at the grocery store. We don’t get pounds and pounds of them these days, but I always make sure to get enough for my Thanksgiving pies.
Even if I don’t get to pick them myself, I always think of my mom and those wonderful wanderings when I pack berries away in the freezer.