A Summer Afternoon Blueberry Picking

We bought the plants in April as young adolescents, rife with deep green leaves, their potential growth crammed into tightly-fitting pots at the garden centre near our home. We had been thinking about blueberries for some time, ostensibly as an idea of avoiding paying the asking price per punnet at the supermarket, but also because my wife and I like to harvest our own produce. We enjoy the knowledge that at least a small portion of the food we eat has been picked just yards from where it was consumed.

The process seemed akin to picking a dog from a pound. Rows of juvenile blueberry plants sat swaying gently in the spring breeze, erect and proud. We, examining each specimen as if we were judges at a competition where the stakes were high, looking for any signs that the plants would not yield an abundant crop. Were the leaves sparse or wilted? Did they look bare at all? These were mere guesses to us, of course, but we chose two that look right to us anyway. We bought larger pots as well and, under the guidance of the seller, some Ericaceae compost. The final bill for all of this was in excess of seventy pounds, leaving me to wonder if my attempt at being frugal had been somewhat pointless.

At home we re-potted the plants, giving them fresh compost and room to grow. We fed them and kept them flourishing through the drier parts of the summer season. We watched them expand and fill out and my son was keen to see the new berries, which began to form their green buds in July.

By mid August the wait was over and we were ready to pick our crop. We chose a sunny Sunday afternoon to take out a bowl and start picking the blueberries. Morgan, my 6-year-old son, was a locomotive of enthusiasm whose fires had been freshly stoked by the thought of fruit-picking. He trotted back and forth, not taking the bowl to the plants but plucking them one at a time and ferrying them to the garden table, where he had lain the receptacle.

‘I’ve got another one!’ he shouted with each journey, and added another berry to the growing pile in the container.

As for myself, I took the less energetic approach of gathering a handful before making the trip. I had suggested that perhaps we should take the bowl to the fruit, but children, it seems, do not like to conserve energy and Morgan was vehemently against the idea. The soft, dark berries left their housing with only the smallest of encouragement, most remaining whole but some quashed between our fingers like molten marshmallows, leaving blue-black stains on our fingertips.

We picked in this way until all the ripe berries were in the bowl. With only two plants fruiting in their first year this was not a lengthy task, and probably only fifteen minutes had elapsed before we’d exhausted our supply. Still, it was a good haul for our first run and we both came back inside the house fully satisfied with our bowl of berries and our stained fingers


Breakfast Granola with Spiced Apples and Blueberries.

Here is a stunning and simplistic contrast of hot and cold. The apples are served warm and really stand out against the chilled yoghurt and blueberries.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes. Cooling time: 5 minutes.

Serves 2

For the spiced apples:

  • Two medium apples, cored, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar (brown sugar will also do fine)
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the rest:

  • 150g simple granola
  • 6 tbsp plain dairy-free yoghurt
  • 2 handfuls fresh blueberries

 

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and gently cook the apples for 10 minutes until soft and slightly browned. Add the spices and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the coconut nectar and water and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Allow the apples to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Split the granola into two bowls, then put 3 tbsp of the yoghurt on top of each serving. Spoon half of the spiced apples onto each helping of yoghurt and then put a handful of blueberries on top of that. If the granola is too dry for your taste you can always add some dairy-free milk to the dish.


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