Berry season is coming up fast, so today I’m sharing my very best blueberry picking tips with you! Because you can never have enough berries in your life.
When berry season rolls around, I start daydreaming about how I want to incorporate them into my food—ice cream, smoothies, sauces, kombucha, pancakes, pies, crumbles, jams…
Berries are just so versatile!
But in order to make all of my berry dreams come true, I need a lot of berries. And by a lot, I mean buckets and buckets of them.
That’s why I love supporting local U-pick farms! They’re often small family operations that take great pride in their berries—and the prices are usually fantastic!
In fact, I’ve seen U-pick blueberry farms charge as little as $1 per pound! That’s a huge savings over grocery store pricing, which means that I can pick blueberries to my heart’s content.
It’s a blessing to be able to feed my family super fresh fruit, while also putting away gallons of beautiful blueberries into the freezer for the months to come.
20 Blueberry Picking Tips
As a family, we’ve picked strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries—but blueberries are my favorite berry to pick!
Through the years, I’ve discovered some helpful blueberry picking tips that make the whole experience even more enjoyable!
I hope you find them helpful, too.
Before You Go
1. Look for a family-friendly farm that doesn’t mind if your kids (or you!) snack on berries while you pick.
2. Ask about the different blueberry varieties your U-pick farm grows. Some types are smaller and sugary-sweet, while others others larger and more complex in flavor.
3. Ask what the farm’s per-pound price is ahead of time, and whether or not you should bring your own baskets or buckets for picking. Usually, they’ll provide these, but it’s good to double-check. Some blueberry farms don’t update their websites regularly, but instead share the latest news on their Facebook pages.
4. If you’re looking for a farm that has organic berries, be sure to ask if they spray. Even if a farm doesn’t advertise their berries as organic, they might not use any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. It’s expensive to become “certified organic”, so many small farms choose not to go through the process, even if their produce is technically organic.
5. Plan to go early in the day if you live in a warmer climate—especially the South! It can heat up fast, so going as early as possible will be more pleasant.
Conversely, berry picking in the evenings can also be very nice if the farm stays open later. We did this often when we lived in Washington state. The humidity and temperatures were fairly low, so berry picking as the sun went down was gorgeous!
What to Bring
6. Bring bottles of water filled with ice!
7. Depending on your location, you might want to bring some insect repellent to ward off mosquitos. Personally, I like to make my own using essential oils, and find that it works quite well.
8. Wearing a hat isn’t for everyone, but it can help to keep the hot sun off your face.
9. Bring your own bowls or containers to transport your blueberries home in. I prefer this approach to the plastic bags farms typically give you—I’ve had too many squished berries from lack of protection!
Pick the Tastiest Blueberries
10. Look where most people don’t. Move branches around and squat down to the lowest part of the bush. People often miss the best, juiciest clusters that hide underneath!
11. Pick only completely ripe berries for the very best flavor. Ripe berries will easily fall off the stems and will have no sign of pink left. Leave the pink ones to ripen longer—even a few days makes a huge difference!
12. Berries near the top of the bush are usually nice and sweet because they are beautifully sun-ripened.
13. In most cases, avoid berries on a broken branch. Unless it has only recently broken, the blueberries will start to shrivel, and the taste and texture are not as nice. You can taste a few to know for sure.
Pick More Blueberries
14. Search for bushes that are loaded with berries, and camp out there for a while. When you wander from bush to bush, it takes a lot of extra time—especially with young children in tow! Many of the best bushes can be found by walking to the far end of a row, where fewer people have picked.
15. The cleaner you pick, the less work you’ll have later on, especially if you’re freezing berries. Try to avoid stems, leaves, and green berries when possible.
16. Go blueberry picking again near the end of the season. Many U-pick farms will discount their berries since they’re not as plentiful at that point!
Blueberry Picking Tips with Kids
17. Dress kids in play clothes that you wouldn’t mind getting blueberry and mud stained. You’ll both have more fun that way! Spread out a large blanket for younger babies to lay on (or baby-wear, if that’s your thing!) so that you can have your hands free.
18. When you arrive at the farm, spend a few minutes working with your kids to help them understand how to pick the best blueberries. Remind them to respect the farm by not breaking branches, pulling off green berries, etc.
19. Give your child their own bucket. Even if they end up with only 4 berries (or net 0) at the end, it’s great for them to take ownership over of their own stash!
20. Know your area. Blueberry picking in Florida—where we had to dodge mosquitos and ticks and keep an eye out for poisonous snakes—was a completely different experience to picking in Washington state, where bugs barely seem to exist!
If there are potential dangers, make sure that your kids are aware of them and stick close to you if they’re young.
Have Fun Blueberry Picking!
Blueberry picking obviously isn’t rocket science, but those are the best blueberry picking tips I’ve learned over the past several years.
I’m really looking forward to berry season this year, and I hope you are too. It’s a lot of fun going together as a family—or even with a group of friends.
And blueberries are an incredibly healthy fruit, high in antioxidants and rich in vitamins and minerals, so be sure to stock up while they’re in-season!
There’s nothing better than bags of delicious berries waiting for you in the freezer.
Are you going blueberry picking this year?!