A delicious way to spend a day in SoIN
My hands are stained purple with juice. The sun is shining on my sunscreen-slathered neck and arms. My bucket is filling with “black gold.” I’m picking black raspberries, and all is right with the world.
My weekend morning starts as Huber’s Orchard, Winery, and Vineyards opens. Last weekend my friend came with me, but I had a whim this morning, so I’m by myself.
Socializing and Scouting Berries
I put a note on my calendar beginning in mid-June, to check on the black raspberries Huber’s. Every week I hound the farm market staff. (They must get tired of me.)
“Are they ripe yet? How about now? Are they ready now?” I’m like a kid waiting for candy. This is my kind of candy.
Once they’re ready, I notify the troops. Cheryl and Sharon are my tried and true berry picking pals. They are willing to get up early on the weekends when they’re in town. My mom has even made an appearance or two
Today I share the wagon ride with an Indian family from Louisville. As the wind tousles our hair, I talk with the woman about veggies and fruits – what she cooks, eats, and grows.
In the field, I scout the black raspberry bushes, walking up and down the rows, peering under leaves and lifting branches – careful to avoid their spines – to find ripe fruit clusters. Black gold!
I see the woman from the wagon ride again. She and her family started picking blueberries and then switched to black raspberries. They don’t have these in India, her husband said.
With a bout of sciatica earlier in the year, I worried I wouldn’t be able to pick enough. So, I brought a portable gardening stool with me to take pressure off my back.
As I pick, I lean over to look at bottom branches and discover huge clusters of berries underneath. I move my little stool over and pick for a while, then glance back and see berries I’ve missed. Changing your perspective can be “berry” illuminating!
On my first outing, I picked for an hour and got a bucket full. On my second, the branches were heavy with fruit. I fill nearly two buckets.
I’m an old hand at this berry business. I spent summer days picking with my dad when I was a kid. But this was before I knew Huber’s had rows and rows of blueberries and black raspberries. Dad would take my sisters and me out to nearby forests, and we’d find patches of berries to pick. My middle sister was a champion picker, filling our makeshift buckets – coffee cans – full of fruit. I ate most of what I picked, but I do remember contributing to the harvest. Mom might remember it differently, though.
Wild berries are free to those who know where to find them, but there’s another price to pay: chiggers. The tiny mites will get on your skin and you may itch and itch afterwards.
This is just one of the benefits Huber’s Orchard offers. Cultivated rows of fruit and produce mean you don’t have to search. And wagons that drop you off and pick you up at the field of your choice mean ripe fruit is there for the picking – literally. No tromping through the woods (though there’s something to be said of that experience).
Fruits (and jellies) of my Labor
What will I do with all of these? (You know I still pop a few in my mouth while I pick. If you’ve never tasted black raspberries, you don’t know what you’re missing!)
I mix with other fruits for a fresh dessert or bake them in pies, muffins or make a sauce for ice cream or cake. I reserve the rest for jelly.
I gently rinse the berries with water and put them in a pan. I pour a little water on them – around a cup per gallon of berries and cook until they’re soft. Afterward, I strain the juice and cook them up with some pectin, placing canning lids and rings on them. The years I helped with Mom’s canning has paid off.
Yay! I have jelly for the entire year.
Black raspberries are pretty well done for the season, but blueberries may still be around. I’m marking my calendar for next year.
Farm Market Finds and Plans to Return
Back at Huber’s farm market, the produce and their colors were gorgeous! In addition to berries, I purchased some potatoes, tomatoes, and peaches. The peppers are calling my name, too.
Peaches are coming on strong, and soon it will be time for peach cobbler. I’ve frozen some blueberries so perhaps I’ll combine them for a peach-blueberry pie. Later, I’ll make sure I come back for apples – pie, applesauce, and more.
And maybe I’ll meet my girlfriends for a glass of wine one weekend when a band is playing. The gift of Huber’s keeps giving all year long.
And, how about a family style meal with homemade biscuits and apple butter? Joe Huber's Family Farm and Restaurant is a mile away.