Friday, January 20, 2012

Blueberry facts

Here's the promised blueberry picking lesson.

Blueberries (genus Vaccinium) grow in bunches - each comprising from half a dozen berries to over 80 berries (I know - I counted a huge bunch the other day and gave up when I reached 79 - there were still about 20 unripe berries remaining).

Blueberries do not ripen after they have been picked. And the berries on each bunch do not ripen at the same time.

Despite growing in bunches similar to grapes, individual bunches cannot be picked - well, you can pick them then you waste most of your crop.

So - a ripe blueberry is blue all over and blue up the stem.  Pink berries can probably be picked in two or three weeks.  Green/white berries - well, that depends on the weather, time available, your patience - but generally another four weeks or so.

The most important fact, though, is that the blueberries just want to leap into your hand. There's no point in pulling off the berries - any resistance means that the fruit is not ripe.

Picking blueberries is reasonably tedious - you circle around and around bush picking only the blue, then you move on to the next bush ..... then a few days later you repeat the cycle until three months later you've either picked all the fruit or it has shrivelled and fallen from the bush and you are relieved that it's nine months until the next harvest.

And in those nine months you prune, weed, repair the irrigation system, wish you'd never succumbed to the lure of life on the land, regret that silly passing thought and remember how wonderful it is to live in the countryside growing delicious things - and it all happens again.

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