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We went on a trip to the "country" this morning to go strawberry picking at Cherry Hill Farm in PG county. The berries were sweet and ripe on a hot morning. There were lots of families and an bounty still available for picking at $1.49 a pound. It is a quick, 20 minute trip from Old Town, Alexandria and you're transported to a beautiful little valley farm that feels hours removed from the hectic pace of DC. There is a small market at the farm with other local produce, baked good, jams and jellies as wells as soft serve ice cream. It was a terrific way to spend what felt like the first real day of summer.

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I've heard the same thing about the cherries. We're still a couple of weeks away for the good, ripe fruit. In the mean time sugar snap peas are as good as any fruit I saw today.

I picked up a crab cake to have for breakfast (topped with an egg, basil and parsley.) It was good, worth the $5 but a bit too salty for my taste.

Sunnyside didn't have any flat irons again this week so I picked up a couple of sirloin tips instead. :lol:

At Cherry Hill Farm they had signs posted saying sweet cherries would be available for picking starting June 11, while supplies last.

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If you ever venture out to farms in MD for pick your own fruits and veggies, I like Homestead Farms for strawberries, blackberries, tart cherries, currants, apples, and peaches and Butler's Orchard for blueberries, blackberries, apples, etc. Butler's doesn't have peaches. Larriland Farm also has peaches (and other fruits and veggies) but I've only been there for blueberries.

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If you ever venture out to farms in MD for pick your own fruits and veggies, I like Homestead Farms for strawberries, blackberries, tart cherries, currants, apples, and peaches and Butler's Orchard for blueberries, blackberries, apples, etc. Butler's doesn't have peaches. Larriland Farm also has peaches (and other fruits and veggies) but I've only been there for blueberries.

Doesn't Butlers do strawberries anymore? We used to go every summer to pick crates and crates of strawberries--we'd o.d. on the stuff (one for me, one for the box... :P ) We had frozen berries all year long! I personally think I ate too many, since I get a bit itchy when I eat them these days :wub:

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If you ever venture out to farms in MD for pick your own fruits and veggies, I like Homestead Farms for strawberries, blackberries, tart cherries, currants, apples, and peaches and Butler's Orchard for blueberries, blackberries, apples, etc.

Thanks for tip on Butlers - I'm ordering a flat (14 lbs!) of already picked sour cherries for canning - $30. I will supply the drinks for anyone who will come over and help me pit the damn things.

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I go out to Striblings every fall for apples, I've never picked peaches there before. It is a reputable orchard as you can tell by the variety of peaches that they have.

no luck. they won't have anything ready until end of july, first of august.

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no luck. they won't have anything ready until end of july, first of august.

I seem to recall that Westmoreland Farms, near King George, VA has peaches as well. Being somewhat further south, perhaps their peaches are a little further along. Google didn't turn up anything on Wesmoreland Fars, but they usually are discussed in the Post weekend section article on berry picking. Warning, it is a hike down there, but excellent for picking all kinds of berries.

edited to add: The better way to get to Westmoreland Farms is to take Rt. 301 through Waldorf and La Plata (bbq alert) and cross the Potomac at Dahlgren, VA. The traffic on 95 south to Fredricksburg is terrible.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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Thanks for tip on Butlers - I'm ordering a flat (14 lbs!) of already picked sour cherries for canning - $30. I will supply the drinks for anyone who will come over and help me pit the damn things.

I picked 15 lbs. of sour cherries at Homestead last summer. Pitting them one at a time took many, many hours over two separate days. I vowed I would never do it that way again. Sur la Table sells a little hand crank cherry pitter, where you feed cherries into a hopper. It costs a lot, but I decided at the time that if I do a big batch like that again, I will buy one. I'm not doing cherry preserves this year, because I still have a few jars left from last summer. But I did make a big, lattice-crust cherry pie for my husband's birthday last week, which turned out fabulously. I bought two quarts at the Dupont market, and pitted them one cherry at a time. It reminded me what drudgery it is. If you do get people to help you and you are pitting by hand, a paper clip works as well as a squeezable olive-cherry pitter. Open the paper clip out to an S shape, insert one loop into the stem end, snag the pit and pull it out.

I will pass along this other hint, which I discovered via the school of hard knocks re cherry preserves. When you chop the cherries and measure them for the jam pot, do not use all the juice. The first time I made cherry jam I included all of the juice, and despite using the indicated amount of pectin and sugar, the preserves never thickened up. Last year, the extra juice got used for a batch of cherry jelly, which is beautiful and delicious. And the preserves were perfect.

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We went to this great little farm on the southern tip of Kent Island yesterday and picked the biggest, juiciest blackberries (I wanted to purchase them pre-picked because it was so HOT, but was told "the sign says U pick, not me pick"). :P So we left the dog in the air conditioned truck and picked. It was great fun and we picked way too many for the 2 of us. Took the berries home and made the best berry pudding. They also have tons of peaches and some veges (squash, eggplant). Looked like the tomatoes will be ready in a week or so. Everything is pick your own.

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We went to this great little farm on the southern tip of Kent Island yesterday and picked the biggest, juiciest blackberries (I wanted to purchase them pre-picked because it was so HOT, but was told "the sign says U pick, not me pick"). :P   So we left the dog in the air conditioned truck and picked.  It was great fun and we picked way too many for the 2 of us.  Took the berries home and made the best berry pudding.  They also have tons of peaches and some veges (squash, eggplant).  Looked like the tomatoes will be ready in a week or so.  Everything is pick your own.

Do you know the name of this place and about how far of a drive is it from DC?

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Do you know the name of this place and about how far of a drive is it from DC?

I don't know the name, but you would take the first exit after crossing the Bay Bridge (Route 8 South) and you will start seeing signs to "pick your own peaches". Just follow the signs. It's about a 45 minute to an hour drive from DC, depending on traffic.

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The strawberries at Homestead Farms are in season and quite delicious. They have a slight bit more water due to all the rain but are small and delicious. You can pick your own or buy by the quart. I just rinsed a quart and they are so tasty, I am having a hard time controlling my urge to eat them all!

Quite fun to see all the kids covered in strawberry juice.

:)

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If you ever venture out to farms in MD for pick your own fruits and veggies, I like Homestead Farms for strawberries, blackberries, tart cherries, currants, apples, and peaches and Butler's Orchard for blueberries, blackberries, apples, etc. Butler's doesn't have peaches. Larriland Farm also has peaches (and other fruits and veggies) but I've only been there for blueberries.

We'll be heading to Larriland soon for strawberries and probably again ina while if our blueberry and raspberry bushes do not produce enough to sate our appetites....

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The strawberries at Homestead Farms are in season and quite delicious. They have a slight bit more water due to all the rain but are small and delicious. You can pick your own or buy by the quart. I just rinsed a quart and they are so tasty, I am having a hard time controlling my urge to eat them all!

Quite fun to see all the kids covered in strawberry juice.

:)

We did some strawberry picking at Homestead too (Sunday). I agree-- the strawberries are a bit juicier than usual (a strawberry crisp came out a bit too runny because of this), but really delicious. We kept ourselves under control and only picked 10 lbs.

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We did some strawberry picking at Homestead too (Sunday). I agree-- the strawberries are a bit juicier than usual (a strawberry crisp came out a bit too runny because of this), but really delicious. We kept ourselves under control and only picked 10 lbs.
What does one do with 10 lbs. of strawberries.

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What does one do with 10 lbs. of strawberries.

post-43-1149001621_thumb.jpg

It's not as much as you think, especially if you like strawberries as much as I do. Those few that aren't finished off in a couple of days, by either eating them plain or using them in desserts, I freeze for sauces, sorbets and ice creams later.

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we hit Butlers for an hour or so of hot and humid picking yesterday

The blueberries are ripe and the bushes are loaded with fruit....they are $2 a pound.....baked a blueberry crisp last night, gave some away, froze some and still have some left for consumption this week

The strawberries are on their last legs but we still managed to get a couple of punnets.....so swet and juicy

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We picked blueberries and sour cherries at Butler's this morning. Blueberries were very very easy picking - you could stand at the same bush for 15 minutes and still get handfuls of plump berries. They were not as sweet as I prefer, though.

Sour cherry picking was not as plentiful, but the cherries were gorgeous and super tart. They're going to make a killer cherry pie tomorrow.

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I just returned home from a trip to Homestead Farm in Poolesville with 32 pounds of sour cherries--about 6 or 7 gallons worth. I noticed that they were selling for around $4 a pint at the Dupont Market last sunday. Pick your own was $1.89 a pound and it took the three of us about 45 minutes to pick 32 pounds and an hour round trip to get there and back home. The trees were loaded with ripe fruit low on the trees; the cherries were coming off in handfuls, amazingly easy to pick our buckets full quickly. They're only going to be picking for another week or so.

They've just started u-pick blackberries and gooseberries (?) and are selling early peaches and nectarines that they pick for you. I've never done anything with gooseberries. Maybe I'll have to think about that if I have any energy left after dealing with all these cherries.

Meanwhile, I've got a lot of pitting to do. I bought a fairly expensive European-made cherry pitter with a little hopper that is a bit quicker than the hole puncher-type pitter I've used in the past, but it will still be a major job. I made a huge batch of sour cherry preserves in 2004, which got raves from everyone who tasted them. I still had some left last year, so didn't make more. After a previous year's batch, that turned out runny and never thickened, I discovered a method not mentioned in any of the canning books or recipes that I looked at, or the instructions in the pectin package. In fact, it goes counter to the instructions given in the Sure-Jell packet. MY METHOD: DRAIN OFF MOST OF THE JUICE AND DON'T INCLUDE IT WITH THE CHOPPED CHERRIES WHEN MAKING THE PRESERVES. USE THE JUICE TO MAKE JELLY.

Especially this year, with all the rain we've just had, the cherries are super juicy. In fact, I may reduce the juice a bit to concentrate the flavor before I make jelly this time.

It's going to take a couple of days to pit all these cherries and make jam, and I don't have room in my fridge for them, so I have put them into a large ice chest. In this heat without refrigeration, they would start to ferment immediately.

First, though. I need to use some of them to make a cherry cobbler. Ooh, dang! Forgot to get vanilla ice cream when I bought the ice. Gotta make another trip to the store. J will be an unhappy camper if I serve cherry cobbler without vanilla ice cream.

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We went on a trip to the "country" this morning to go strawberry picking at Cherry Hill Farm in PG county. The berries were sweet and ripe on a hot morning. There were lots of families and an bounty still available for picking at $1.49 a pound. It is a quick, 20 minute trip from Old Town, Alexandria and you're transported to a beautiful little valley farm that feels hours removed from the hectic pace of DC. There is a small market at the farm with other local produce, baked good, jams and jellies as wells as soft serve ice cream. It was a terrific way to spend what felt like the first real day of summer.
Their website now says they are closed "indefinitely". More here.
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Their website now says they are closed "indefinitely". More here.

Sadly, Cherry Hill Farm could no longer resist the siren call of developer money. They closed after the 2005 season, and I've heard the land is already being built upon.

It will be terribly missed by my family, such a wonderful rural experience 12 minutes away from our urban home.

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There is a new pick your own strawberry farm opening in St. Mary's County this weekend.

http://www.southerncomfortberryfarm.com/

On Saturday, May 19th from 8 am to 5pm, Southern Comfort Berry Farm will be having their Grand Opening. Pick your own delicious vine-ripened strawberries, enjoy free lemonade, a hay maze, playground and petting zoo for the kids, and much more. Located in Bushwood, MD, the 11 acre family farm offers delicious, quality fruits and family fun. And remember: the best berry is the one you pick yourself, so we'll see you there.

St. Mary's county is also hosting the Brew-and-Que at the fairgrounds if you decide to head that way.

http://www.brewandque.com/

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Butler's Orchard's strawberry picking started yesterday. $1.89/lb.
Excellent!! I always go there and buy several flats to flash freeze (we all learned how on Good Eats - right??). Same with blueberries and sour cherries.

FYI - according to their recorded message, it's scattered picking right now and they recommend waiting until early June if you want large quantities for freezing/jam.

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Strawberry picking over the weekend at Homestead Farm (Poolesville, MD) was great. Much better strawberries than last year, which were a bit watery. This year the lack of rain has resulted in smaller, but very intensely flavored berries. Made a strawberry crisp with some last night.

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We got sweet cherries, strawberries, beets, and spinach from Larriland on Saturday.

As usual, though it looks like more produce than any neighborhood can consume in a season, by the time the berries cook down, it will make a lot less than I think...

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Tart cherries are now available at Homestead.
Thanks for the word-up on this, Porcupine. I went out this morning and invested in 4 quarts. Three have been pitted and are freezing on sheet pans in my freezer. I think the 4th will be turned into a tart cherry crostada tomorrow!
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cjsadler and I picked blueberries at Butler's Orchard on Friday afternoon. The blueberries are great this year. They are sweet and perfect and have a very concentrated blueberry flavor. We picked 15 pounds of blueberries.

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And I made a blueberry buckle.

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Raspberries should be ready for picking this weekend or next week.

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What do you plan to do with the rest of the bloops?
Gonna use some of my share for some blueberry scones and a blueberry cobbler. I made some blueberry ice cream last week (with other blueberries), but something weird happened with the texture. It's grainy in a strange way (not icy), and seems to have something to do with the pectin in the blueberries.
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Kitakami actually has a pick-your-own blueberry farm, which I visited today. I had never been to a pick-your-own farm before, so I really enjoyed chowing on nice, warm berries plucked straight off the bush. A number of the bushes had fully formed white (or lilac, or lavender) berries on them, which I assume are not yet ripe. They were still really beautiful next to the ripe ones.

I used some of the blueberries in a muffin tutorial this afternoon, and had more with Cointreau-spiked whipped cream after dinner tonight. :angry:

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