U-Pick Farms around Chicago. It’s that time of year again and I meant to write this post last year and never got around to it. Growing up we would, at least once a year, drive out to farms and pick berries, pumpkins and apples if our apple tree wasn’t producing that year. It was fun to run around in the fields and be helpful. And I’m sure it was economical because that’s how I was raised!
How to do it
Check online for an estimate of when produce will be ready to be picked. Always check online and/or call before heading out because conditions may have changed in the field or everything may have already been picked. Hours may vary. Wear shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring a bag(s) to put them in so you can throw them in your trunk if they get too dirty and bring another pair to drive home in. Also bring a box(es) to place your containers in so they don’t spill. Wear a hat, sunscreen and bring water. Try to pick in the morning or early evening when it’s cooler.
Don’t over pick
Even though the prices and quality may be fantastic only pick what you can eat and store before they go bad. Decide what you’ll do with your haul. When local grocery stores have great sales or the berries at the farmers market look good I flash freeze them. First I rinse them and trim off the tops (strawberries). Then I place a towel on a full size rimmed baking sheet and place another towel on top and do some gentle blotting. I let them air dry for about an hour. Once pretty dry I transfer them to 8’x 8′ baking pans in a single layer and freeze them for a few hours. Pick up the tray and shake and if they will roll around they’re frozen. A few may stick just gently pry them off. I carefully pour them into freezer bags and write the date on the bags.
Billy Boy’s Blueberry Bar, 650 Freyer Rd, Michigan City, IN (219) 872-7477 Hours Wednesday-Monday Open 8:30am until 6pm
The Extraordinary Berry, 3091 Riverside Rd. Benton Harbor, MI, 269-470-4645. Hours daily starting June 17, 9AM-6PM
Garwood Orchards, 5911 W 50 South, LaPorte, IN (219) 362-4385 Hours 9am-5:30pm DAILY. Call First.
Heider’s Berry Farm, 1106 N. Queen Anne Rd., Woodstock, IL, 815-338-0301. Hours daily, 8AM-5PM. Cash only.
Olive Berry Acres, 2575 W. Mine Rd., Mazon, IL, 815-474-6511. Hours call for hours
Stade’s Farm Market, 3709 W. Miller Rd., McHenry, IL (815-675-6396). Hours Daily 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Susie’s Garden Patch, 10258 US Highway 20, Garden Prairie, IL, 815-597-3011. Hours Tues.-Sat., 9AM-6PM; Sun., 12PM-5PM
Tom’s Farm Market, 10214 Algonquin Rd., Huntley, IL (847-669-3421). Hours Mon-Fri 8:30am – 2:00pm Sat-Sun 8:30am – 3:00pm
Valley Orchard, 811 E. State St., Cherry Valley, IL (815) 332-9696. Hours Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-6pm.