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Blueberry Bliss

U-pick Season Offers Tasty Family Fun

From sugar-sweet citrus to chin-dripping juicy watermelons, Central Floridians are blessed with a bounty of fresh produce year round. With the warmth of spring, local blueberries are slowly turning from firm and green, to plump, brilliant purple and juicy, deep blue. Blueberry season begins in mid-April and typically runs through June. So, hurry to the nearest u-pick blueberry farm while these little blue gems are in season. Your family will reap the rewards for months to come!

Blueberries are fun to eat, freeze well, and are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They’re one of the easiest crops for kids to harvest, and a trip to a local u-pick farm offers back-to-nature entertainment for all ages! Farms don’t mind if the little ones sneak a taste or two to discover preferred varieties, but leave Fido at home (most farms don’t allow dogs). Tom West Blueberries, for example, grows four varieties: Emerald (very large, mildly sweet), Jewel (very large, tangy), Primadonna (very large, sweet), and Springhigh (large, sweet).


Fun at the Farms 

Lake Catherine Blueberries, owned by Dustin and Jamie Lowe, is a favorite with Ocoee mom Alison Madrid. “This farm is all family run. Jamie’s grandmother makes blueberry pies and Jamie makes cobblers along with syrup, jelly, honey, pickles, and other goodies,” says Alison, whose kids enjoy the playground and buggy rides to explore the ground’s blueberry bushes and honey bees.

“We encourage children,” proclaims Melanie Rose, owner of Sand Hill Farm. “It’s a great way for grandparents to build memories with their grandchildren.” Pack lunch to picnic under the oak trees, paired with your freshly picked fruit.


Pick Prepared 

Some farms provide containers for berry collection, but consider bringing a small beach pail for your young farmers, or a quart-sized yogurt container or empty coffee can for older kids so each family member has his own container. Don’t forget snacks, water, sunscreen, hats, and handi-wipes. It’s best to wear sturdy shoes and old clothes that you won’t mind getting stained or dirty. On a hot day, pack a cooler to transport the berries home and remember to bring cash as many farms do not accept credit cards. Restrooms may not be available or limited to port-o-lets at some farms, so consider taking a bathroom break before arrival.


Enjoying Your Harvest 

To protect your bounty, plan to process the berries as soon as possible. Wash them in a colander, weeding out any debris or crushed, green, and moldy berries. Pour them onto a clean kitchen towel and gently pat dry. Fresh berries can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

Most kids will snack on berries like candy or enjoy them added to whole wheat pancakes, muffins, coffee cake, or scones. Toss the fresh berries with a little flour before mixing into the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom of muffins and to keep the color intact. Whirl berries into salad dressings, churn into ice cream, top with yogurt, toss into cereal, or even add them to a pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto. Cook two cups of berries with ½ cup of water and a few tablespoons of sugar to get an instant sauce for pancakes, ice cream, or even pork chops.

Berries freeze best when poured in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and placed in the freezer until frozen. Store them in quart-sized bags for up to a year. They’ll likely never make it that long, however, if you take a cupful out of the freezer, leave them on the counter for 15 minutes, and snack on the slightly frozen, low-calorie treat. Cold berries are also great stirred into hot oatmeal, added to smoothies, or tossed into fruit salad.

Have you always wanted to make jam with your kids but were scared off by visions of a bubbling cauldron of sugary berries on the stove? Ball Instant Fruit Pectin is your answer! You’ll find it in the grocer’s canning aisle, and the recipe on the package for freezer jam is so simple that even a child can help. Mix the pectin (thickening agent) with sugar, add to crushed berries, stir, and…voila – mouthwatering homemade jam.


Local Blueberry Farms
Call ahead for crop availability, address, hours, and prices.

  • B&G Blueberries, Fort McCoy; (352) 236-4410
  • Beck Brother’s Blueberries, Windermere; (407) 656-5344
  • Blue Bayou Farms, Yalaha; (352) 324-4069
  • Green Acres, Yalaha; (352) 360-5445
  • H&H Berry Farms, Montverde; (800) 716-4740
  • Heather Oaks Farm, Lady Lake; (352) 753-1184
  • Holland Family Farm, Mims; (321) 269-9502
  • JG Ranch, Brooksville; (352) 799-0556
  • Lake Catherine Blueberries, Groveland; (352) 551-4110
  • Mark’s U-Pick Blueberries, Clermont; (352) 394-2135
  • Meadors Blueberry Farm, Mims; (407) 383-6639
  • Sand Hill Farm, Eustis; (352) 636-8204
  • Tom West Blueberries, Ocoee; (407) 656-3223


Lemon Blueberry Parfait
Makes a healthy after-school snack or elegant dessert.


  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • 6 oz. container of lemon-flavored Greek yogurt
  • 2 graham crackers, crushed
  • Whipped cream and chocolate syrup


Spoon the yogurt, graham cracker crumbs, and blueberries in alternating layers into a wine or parfait glass. Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.