Once again this year my mother and I made the trip out to the Eastern Shore to pick blueberries and tart cherries. Last year I was in my second trimester of pregnancy and still working when we did the same. I posted a little about it, but this year (even though I’m just as busy) I’m going to do a better job of relating it.
The Hubs was supposed to come with us this year, we needed an extra pair of hands to take care of the baby while we worked and he wanted to see this farm of many wonders. Unfortunately, at the last minute he had to work. Boo. I was really concerned about making it work with just my mom and I, picking berries/cherries and caring for a busy infant is no small undertaking. I ended up getting a babyhut for the little guy to play in while we worked. We certainly had to take more breaks to tend to him and keep him entertained but it worked out well enough.
I’m glad we got an earlier start this year. We arrived at 8:30 am and started picking right away. This year the weather was perfect, not hot and there was a cool breeze that blew every few minutes. We picked 30 pounds of blueberries this year. The fruit was tasty, plump and abundant! While it was still a lot of work, it was easier this year to fill three buckets. The baby got his first taste of blueberries out in the field, straight off the bush!
We headed over to the market stand where the cherry trees are located by noon. It took us a little while to really get going there. We needed to stop for a snack and then I needed to get the baby settled, nursed and down to nap. Once he was asleep though we really picked up pace and filled two and half buckets before we decided it was time to quit. Mom and I were both tired and starting to ‘feel the burn’ in our backs and shoulders. We ended up with 24 pounds of cherries this year, six less than last year, but we also picked more blueberries than we did in 2011. It all evens out in the end.
I was feeling pretty poorly that afternoon. A mini-migraine snuck up on me and put me out of commission for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. By the time the baby was in bed though I was back in action and we started canning. We made a double batch of blueberry jam and froze a bunch of blueberries before calling it a day.
The next morning I made cornmeal waffles with berries to start us off with full bellies. Mom got to work pitting cherries. This year we got a cherry stoner gadget that allows the user to pit several pounds of cherries per hour, it was so much faster than the handheld pitter we used last year! Totally worth the $20 purchase! We took a break in the afternoon to grab some dinner and got back to canning after the baby was in bed. We finished up with the fruit, cleaned the kitchen and congratulated ourselves on another job well done.
The next morning while I was getting breakfast together I found a tub full of unpitted cherries on the top shelf. We discovered that the cherries were hiding behind some other stuff and completely missed them the night before. Bummer. We broke all the canning stuff out again and finished up by early afternoon.
All totaled we had 11 half pints of blueberry jam, 7 pints of sour cherry jam, 6 half pints of cherry and walnut conserve, 12 quarts/pints each of blueberries and sour cherries (just plain canned) and 3 gallons of frozen blueberries. Oh – and two cherry pies!
I realize that most people are not willing to can fruit much less go to a upick and collect 60 pounds of fruit in a morning. But if you are going to can, it is cheaper to pick it yourself, rather than buy it at a store or farmer’s market. We recognize that it is a lot of work (two and half days of labor) to do this, but we feel it is worth it! Mom and I had a lot of fun, we also got to do some bonding. So, yes, I am exhausted but I love it!