Summer always passes quickly, but this year it seems to be moving along even faster than usual. I think part of it is that I am making a greater effort this year to pick and preserve as much of the summer harvest as possible, especially berries. We eat a lot of berries throughout the year, and it just makes more sense ecologically, nutritionally, and financially to pick and freeze or preserve as many berries as we can to enjoy throughout the year. I also have the added push this year of wanting to snuggle at home as much as possible this coming winter with our newborn. Somehow a trip to the pantry or basement freezer sounds much more appealing than a wintry trek to the store to purchase pricey, imported berries.
Here in New England, however, organic berry-picking comes in roughly three-week spurts: three weeks for fresh strawberries, three weeks for raspberries, three weeks for blueberries, etc., so the pressure is on to pick as much as possible, as often as possible. I am skeptical when I still see strawberries at the farmers' market, recognizing that most of the organic farms I know and trust picked and sold all of their strawberries a couple of weeks ago….hmmm….
I fell short of my strawberry-picking goal, as we are already tapping in to our dwindling freezer stash, but I have great hope for the blueberries. The blueberry bushes have been bursting this year and with a few more trips to the pick-your-own-patch, we may be able to have enough frozen berries to stretch the year.
I'm a big fan of Ben Hewitt's books and blog, and he recently wrote an excellent post about berry season. For his family of four, 100 quarts of frozen blueberries from his own bushes seem to get them through the year with a plentiful berry supply. I would love to reach that goal, but realistically I am aiming for us to pick about half that amount this year. A quart a week *should* do it if we manage to not gorge too much on these delicious berries before they even make it to the freezer! And I have an unscientifically-tested-mom-instinct-hunch that eating berries throughout the year--especially blueberries--keeps colds and sickness away. Even if I don't have exacting proof of blueberries' immune-boosting properties, (though there is some), it certainly can't hurt.
So the race is on to pick these beautiful berries before their brief season fades away. Viewing summer from the perspective of its harvests, recognizing that strawberries are gone until next June, blueberry days are dwindling, and cherry tomatoes--so long awaited--will also quickly disappear, gives my family and me a far greater appreciation for these special foods, and a heightened motivation for preserving as much of summer's bounty as possible to enjoy on those dark, wintry days snuggled at home.