Blueberry Time in Central Florida
After hearing several friends rave about picking blueberries and sampling some of the wonderful food that resulted from their excursions, my husband and I set off to do the same. Southern Hill Farms, southwest of Orlando, Florida in Clermont has been offering customers the chance to pick their own blueberries or purchase what others have gathered for a little over four years. The first crop was planted in 2010. Eight fields offer ten different varieties. Customers set out to pick with gallon buckets provided by the Farms and a map describing the sizes and tastes of each variety. Pickers can eat as many berries as they want as they go.
The Farm also offers blueberry snacks, a gift shop (I bought a blueberry-scented candle crafted on-site), a hay rack ride, another ride called the Blueberry Express, and a small playground. Their season extends from mid-April to around Memorial Day, although not all varieties are available that long. In fall, they offer pumpkins and gourds. Around Christmas, they do an outdoor showing of “The Polar Express,” complete with hot chocolate.
I ventured into the fields long enough to snap shots for this article, then retired to my own rocking chair in the open air picnic area. It was one of those glorious, sunny Florida days with low humidity and a gentle breeze. My husband picked for about forty-five minutes and returned with about three pounds of blueberries.
For more information about the Farms, visit SouthernHillFarms.com/blueberry-u-pick.
I have big plans for making blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins and a blueberry pie in the days ahead. Included here is a modified recipe I received from a friend years ago for Blueberry-Grape salad. Enjoy!
Use a 13x9x2” pan or dish
Dissolve 2 boxes (large) grape gelatin in 2 c. boiling water
Add: 1 large can crushed pineapple, drained, 1 can blueberry pie filling (okay, so this doesn’t quite work with fresh or frozen blueberries; if you want to be a purist, there are several recipes for blueberry pie filling online)
Let this set in refrigerator until firm.
Once set, mix together until lump-free, 1 c. sour cream, 1 large package cream cheese, ½ c. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Optional: 1/8 tsp. lemon juice.
Optional: sprinkle top with finely chopped walnuts and/or shaved blueberry chips (don’t go overboard on these; the bottom layer will already be sweet.)