Blueberries are just not my favorite fruit… simply because they’re not. I buy them because I love their color and I want to love their flavor, but… sometimes they’re bland and mushy.
So why did I find myself with twenty pounds of blueberries in my kitchen last week, enough to almost fill my bathtub? Well, let me tell you something, blueberries in season, fresh from the farm, are another matter entirely. If you have ever eaten a blueberry fresh from the bush, you will understand.
When I popped my first, off-the-bush berry into my mouth it burst with a wonderful tart flavor that ended on a sweet, blue note. The texture was firm, with no hint of that mushy-ness I have known. I became immediately addicted, and didn’t stop tasting until my mouth, hands, and palate were blue.
They tasted so good I just couldn’t help myself. I went crazy and came home with an entire garbage bag full. You would too, if you visit Fairfield Farms in Pauma Valley, so consider yourself warned.
I found out about this beautiful organic farm from fellow blogger Erika of InErikasKitchen.com who graciously organized this tour.
Harrison Steed, our tour guide, escorted me and ten other berry inquisitive food bloggers. He and his brother are working on software that provides traceability and analytics for farms – It tells the farmer who picked what, where they picked it from, how much was picked, and what time it was picked. He shared with us the inside story to blueberry picking.
The Journey of a Blueberry
Blueberries are picked by hand in their prime.
They are immediately transported from the field to a processing plant where they are sorted by hand. Every box is traced back to the worker who picked it and to the row it was picked from.
The berries are loaded on a conveyor belt and pass through a machine that takes thousands of pictures every second to detect the color of the berry. If it senses green or red berries, it shoots a beam of air at the berry and launches it into a tray of unripe berries.
The cleaning machine sorts for small and unripe berries.
Next the berries travel down a line of workers who are looking for defective berries that were not picked out by the machine.
The blueberries end up in a basket that is then poured into a machine for final packaging.
Back In The Field
We picked, and ate, and picked and ate, until we were almost blue…
And even the sunburn and blue stained fingers were worth it.
You are never too young or too old to pick blueberries. There are berries for every height level and for even the pickiest palates.
Where to Pick Organic Blueberries
If you want to pick blueberries, here is the address.
Fairfield Farms – 14224 Old Cole Grade – Pauma Valley, CA 92061
Contact them at 760-742-5191
Picking season is May 1st - June 1st, Thursday through Sunday between 8am to 6pm.
Prices are $5 a pint.
Being on this farm made me realize how much I miss being barefoot in the dirt with the sun on my shoulders, tasting food straight from the source and sharing it with my family. In response, I brought home twenty pounds of farm fresh blueberries, which, for better or worse, were planted in my refrigerator and freezer. Months from now I will wake these luscious berries from their cozy frozen sleep, make another pie, and recall my new found love of this special fruit.
I’ve eaten enough berries in the last 2 days to stain my fingers and teeth. My first baked item is a blueberry pie from the Farm House Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis. Delish!
Now, what to do with the other eighteen pounds… it will be such fun to decide.
…and then, she paused for thought