Friday, July 9, 2010

Pick-Your-Own Blueberries

Posted By on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:03 AM

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Last summer, I picked blueberries in Millington at Harris Farms. The family grows mature bushes on a rise behind their produce stand. The experience was kicked back and charming, and I could buy produce in addition to the berries.

This year, Susan Ellis and I headed to Nesbit, Mississippi, to pick blueberries at the Nesbit Blueberry Plantation. The name pretty much explains the scope of the place: 20,000 bushes cover 22 acres; golf carts transport berry pickers to the field; and adorable baby donkeys add appeal on the way in and the way out.

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Like Harris Farms, Nesbit Blueberry Plantation is family-owned and operated, and family members wander around the fields handing out advice like this: “Work the entire bush before moving on; don’t miss the berries in the middle; go for the big, fat ones; any berry with a blush is ready to pick.”

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Blush, in berry parlance, is the white wash on the fruit. We each picked a gallon bucket ($11 a bucket) of “Tiff Blue,” a shrub native to the southeast cultivated for its heavy clusters of fruit.

“Tiff blue is a late-ripening variety, and we’ve never seen clusters as beautiful as we’re seeing this year,” explained Dwight, who is the brother-in-law of the farm owner, George Traicoff.

Traicoff, by the way, twitters every day on the farm’s website, so be sure to check berry and weather conditions before visiting the farm. One recent tweet: Picking will extend into August.

And one last thing ...

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A bucket is a lot of berries. I used mine for pie and jam.

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