It's berry picking season
It’s Summer! Hooray...The weather is warming up and berries are in season.
If you’re lucky enough to have strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries in your garden, then you and your children already know the joy of searching the patch for a tasty snack.
If you don’t have any berries in your own garden (and even if you do), then visiting a berry farm over Summer is an absolute must.
Nothing is quite like traipsing over berry fields, with hats, boots and baskets, searching through the leaves for red, blue or black berries.
There are many farms around that offer “pick-your-own” berry experiences. Most are quite reasonably priced, but you will need to check with each farm before you organise your trip, to know what you’re in for. Some businesses allow you to eat whilst picking while others prefer you don’t.
When you take your children berry picking, not only will you be helping your children learn the joy and taste of eating food fresh off the bush, you’ll also be teaching them a little about where food really comes from. You’ll have an opportunity to talk about colours, ripeness, tastes, textures as well as insects, weather, temperature, up/down, the sky, and whatever other topic you or your little ones come up with.
Whilst it’s appealing to think that the picked berries need to be baked into a sugary pie or pastry, try and resist this temptation. There’s just no need to turns delicious, healthy berries into less-than-healthy sugary snacks. The berries are delicious on their own. They are a true “superfood”, a powerhouse of good nutrition, and the healthiest way to eat them is just as they are. If you come from a long line of bakers or sweet makers, then why not start a new tradition in your family and eat the beautiful berries just as they are.
If you do take a kilo or two of picked berries home, why not freeze what you can’t eat, then use the frozen berries for smoothies or homemade jelly? Frozen berries can be great when packed in a pot of plain yoghurt to be taken on a picnic. The icy cold berries keep the snack fresh and cool, and when it comes time for eating they’ll be soft and delicious.
I find that many parents are concerned about the choking risk of many foods they feed their kids. When it comes to berries, most children will be just fine. From a very young age berries can easily be picked up and squashed into their mouths, especially the smaller ripe ones. When your baby has grasped the “pincer” movement with their fingers, then berries are an excellent exercise in fine motor control and they can spend ages picking up one at a time. Do stay alert and attentive to your kids whenever they are eating, but make sure you find time to relax and enjoy the experience too…and to eat a few berries yourself along the way!
With Christmas just around the corner, instead of buying more stuff for the adorable children in your life, why not give them a memorable experience instead. Take the whole family berry picking, or just yourself and your little one. Take Grandparents, friends, neighbours, nieces or nephews. It’s an experience that suits loud kids, quiet kids, busy kids and take-your-time kids. Snap a beautiful photo of purple or red-stained fingers and faces and you’ll find yourself smiling every time you look at the photos.