WE FOUND OUR THRILLS

weFoundThrills

Words by Judy Allen
Photography by Brooke Allen & Judy Allen

There are a few weeks out of the year in which our part of the state is close to perfect: The days are warm and the nights still carry a slight chill, the school year is coming to an end and berries of all kinds are ripe for picking o of bushes all over Oklahoma.

We decided to take advantage of this abundance and headed out for a morning of blueberry picking and—who’s kidding who?—a bit of eating!!

There are U pick ’em locations all across northeast Oklahoma and, lucky for us, thanks to a mild winter the berry bushes were loaded. Picking your own supply can be a fun (and less expensive) way to accrue a good amount of fruit, so we packed up the kids and headed to Thunderbird Berry Ranch in Broken Arrow.

We arrived, slathered on sunscreen and insect repellant, grabbed our pails and headed out to find the best row in which to start. Our young assistants were eager to pick, but came with quite an appetite, creating more work for us all. After an hour or so our buckets (as well as theirs) were too heavy to carry, and the sun’s rays were getting to us, so we paid for our load and sat on a picnic bench to plan what we might do with our sudden windfall of blueberries. Up first, we will freeze the extras on rimmed baking sheets lined with paper towels then transfer them to zip-top bags to use when the urge strikes.

These recipes cover all the bases—barbecue, snack time, breakfast and, of course, pie!  is is not your typical blueberry pie, however. We took a pan full of ripe berries and turned them into a luscious curd, poured it into a flaky pie shell, then topped it all with marshmallowy meringue.

RECIPES

BLUEBERRY MERINGUE PIE

BLUEBERRY-BOURBON BBQ SAUCE

BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK PANCAKES WITH BLUEBERRY SYRUP

PICKLED BLUEBERRIES

 

LOCAL U PICK ’EM LOCATIONS:

As much as we would love to have a field of wild berry bushes, with unlimited picking rights, the reality is that we have neither the space nor the knowledge to care for them. Luckily there are several willing growers around the area who literally do the dirty work for us. All that’s left to do is arrive with a big, empty bucket for picking.

Here are some of the best “U Pick ’em” spots around. It’s always a good idea to call ahead, to verify that the berries are ready to pick, and to make sure eager pickers haven’t already taken the day’s supply. For the best picking, we like to head out in the early morning … less sun and more berries. We see pie in our future … or at least some blue-stained fingertips!

NOTE: Most of the locations we contacted hinted that it would be the end of May to the ­ rst weekend of June before blueberries are ready. Strawberries and raspberries will also be available starting in late May, but you’ll have to wait until late June and July for juicy blackberries.

  • Blueberry Acres is located in the Ozark Plateau, rolling land in east-central Oklahoma that is well-suited for growing berries. 10151 N. 510 Rd., Tahlequah, 918.456.5407
  • Canyon Berry Farms, in the beautiful rolling hills of Claremore, offers naturally grown blueberries as well as honey from their own hives. 20126 S. Dickerson Dr., Claremore, 918.344.9191, Facebook.com/CanyonBerryFarms
  • Cedar Blu­ Raspberries offers sustainably grown raspberries from June to July. 3101 Stan­field Rd., Sapulpa, 918.227.3589
  • Endicott Farms, a 30-acre farm located south of Tulsa in Liberty Mounds, will have two acres of blueberries and blackberries available for picking starting in late May. 211th Street South between Harvard & Lewis, 918.344.4582, EndicottFarms.com
  • Meadow Blackberry Farm will be ready for their ­ rst blackberry harvest in early June. 3200 Westgreen Way, Sapulpa, 918.227.1987 Facebook.com/pages/Meadow-Blackberry-Farm/743368605688942?sk=timeline
  • Owasso Christmas Tree and Blackberry Farm offers blueberries as well as three varieties of blackberries: Kiowa (produce largest berries), Natchez and Osage (both thornless) Their season normally starts in early June and runs for 4–6 weeks— weather permitting. 11039 N. 129th E. Ave., Owasso, 918.272.9445 or visit OwassoTreeFarm.com
  • The Toomey’s Black n Blue ‑ Thornless Berry Farm is a great place for picking blackberries because, you guessed it, no thorns! 22629 E. 61st St., Broken Arrow, 918.595.5881
  • Thunderbird Berry Farm is a family-owned and -operated business that has been growing blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries since 2005. Pick berries yourself or partake in the “two for me, the third one’s free” deal, where customers pick three pounds of berries, give two pounds to the farm and take a pound home for free! 7515 S. Hansen Rd., Broken Arrow, 918.640.7168, Facebook.com/thunderbirdberryfarm
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