Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blueberry Picking Madness!

Thursday I had a choice:

A) I could stay home and write my blog post, or
B) I could head off on a berry picking adventure.

As you can see, I chose B.  

See, first thing in the morning, as I was just finishing up my breakfast cereal, my cousin walked into the house and invited me off to go picking blueberries in some prime blueberry territory. 

Naturally, I raced off to grab my daughter so that we could go!

It was a very long drive.  

We headed even farther up North, up to the Tofte area, which is where Superior National Forest is located.  The soil is particularly acidic, so blueberry plants grow in abundance.

Evidently, the best indicator of proper acidity levels is pine tree growth, which means that we had to go off to an area loaded with pines... but not too loaded with them.  Blueberry plants also have a preference for full sun.  We therefore needed fields surrounded by pines.

So we drove for miles upon miles on the highway,

Highway through a dense forest

until we went off the paved road and onto the maintained dirt road,

Nicely oiled dirt road through the windshield

and then through the not-so-maintained dirt road.

Dust clouds through the windshield as we drove

At last, we made it into the great blueberry fields of yummy goodness, and you could literally see the blueberries poking through the grass and pine needles from the moment you opened the car door. 

Blueberry plants poking through pine needles and grass
 Naturally, we were there for hours.  In the end, we ended up with nearly a full gallon of blueberries, even though my daughter's idea of picking blueberries was to pick them... from my basket!

There are a few important things to consider whenever you run off to pick blueberries in the wild, however:

1)  Try to go with a group.  If you go alone, make sure people know exactly where you're going.  This part is extraordinarily important.  You have to realize that things can happen when you're in the wilderness... even in blueberry fields.  Having a clear plan so that people know what to do if you don't return on time is important.  

2)  Don't take it all!  While finding a large patch of blueberries is a wonderful thing, you have to remember that you're not the only one that wants those berries.  I'm not just talking people, either.  I'm talking bears.  And deer.  Those berries serve a purpose beyond our own desire for healthy sweets, so ensuring plenty are left behind is just good common sense.

3)  Drink lots of water.  This is where I tend to make my mistake: I bring water, and I drink it... I just don't drink enough.  The dehydration causes headaches, and the overall experience is made less amazing because of that.  Don't let that happen to you.  Drink your water!

When the trip is complete and you're back at home staring at your blue treasures, there's only one thing left to do:

Figure out what to do with it all!!!  

Homemade blueberry muffins a la wild blueberries!

(That's my great grandma's recipe, tweaked to make it my own.  I'm considering posting the recipe, but it's a very finicky recipe that hugely changes in different altitudes and humidity. Yikes!)

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