Last week our local U-pick blueberry farm opened for the season, so I decided we might as well head out there before I got too close to my due date (I”m just under three weeks away). We visited the farm last year and have decided it is a great yearly tradition for our family.

Our Farm

While our farm is not certified organic, they do follow many organic farming principles, and I was informed that this year they did not need to spray, which made me happy. This is one of those instances where, for me, choosing local takes precedence over organic, not to mention the benefit of my kids being able to go directly to the farm and know exactly where their food has come from.

The farm also partners with a local baker to sell fresh blueberry pies and blueberry bread, and they produce and sell their own raw honey. The honey is delicious and was the inspiration for the recipe I”m going to share with you today.

Read on for more photos, tips and an original recipe for a delectable early summer treat.

U-Pick Fun

During lunch with a friend this week, my daughter was so proud and excited to explain that she picked these blueberries herself. And let me tell you, the taste is amazing– much sweeter and more distinct-tasting than the berries in our grocery store that traveled many miles to get to us in Southern California.

I wanted to share a few helpful hints with you in case you have a chance to go blueberry picking this season. These came from our farm”s website.

  • Farmer Mike uses two hands cupped together and the key is THUMBS.  Cup both hands together and using your thumbs and index finger, roll the blueberries into your cupped hand.
  • Go for a walk. The plants near the entrance get picked the most.  Go for a walk and you will usually find plenty of blueberries.
  • LIFT Branches!  Most adults pick the berries at mid stomach level (where they are the easiest)  If you carefully lift branches, you will often discover clusters of berries and it makes picking much easier.  Hint- looking for heavy foliage is a good place to lift branches.

Visiting the farm didn”t end up saving us any money (especially when you consider the gas to drive about an hour away to get there), but it was well worth the cost in my opinion. I don”t mind at all paying a few bucks more for fresh, local berries in my fridge, the  experience  for my kids, and supporting a local family business.

Recipe: Homemade Blueberry Honey Ice Cream

originally published on Gidget Goes Home

makes just over one quart

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup honey
2 Tb. water
1 cup, minus 1 Tb. half and half
5 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk, chilled in the freezer for at least 20 minutes
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer berries, half the honey, and water, breaking up berries as they cook down, about 5 minutes. Puree in a blender, then strain through a sieve into a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium sausepan over medium-low heat, simmer the half and half until very hot but not boiling.

In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining honey until pale yellow. Slowly pour in half and half, whisking as you go, so as not to cook the eggs.

Return mixture to saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly across the bottom of the pan, until thick and custardy, coating the back of a spoon (170 degrees on a candy thermometer). Do not allow it to curdle.

Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in chilled buttermilk, vanilla and berry mixture. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer”s instructions. Ice cream will need to be frozen for at least 2 hours to achieve hard ice cream.

I hope you love this beautifully colored, rich-tasting homemade ice cream as much as I do! What”s your favorite way to eat blueberries? Do you have local blueberries available in your area?