Since the start of summer we have joked about something called “The Berry Trifecta“. The what? Don’t worry if you don’t know, because we totally made it up. The idea was to pick three different kinds of berries, in our case strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Why? Because fresh picked berries are just so YUMMY! The lessons we learned along the way were just icing on the berry-licious cake.
Download your very own “Berry Trifecta” Colouring Page here.
Berries are on the short list of items my kids will actually eat in a packed school lunch. It is often painful shopping for these items during the winter months because they are SO expensive and please don’t even get me started on how they taste!
But during the summer, we are in berry bliss, PICK YOUR OWN’s are plenty. It’s a fun outing that teaches us where these favourite foods come from. Did you know that our food doesn’t come prepackaged at the grocery store? No way!
I have always said that farmers are some of the most important scientists out there. This summer they have battled extreme heat with little rain. The complexities of these variables would make any laboratory scientist’s head spin. But they don’t have a choice, their livelihood and our survival depends on them adapting during this ‘experiment’.
Let’s start from the beginning of our trifecta…
When we were invited to go strawberry picking before school on one of the last week’s of the school year, we jumped at the chance. We are lucky to have an organic strawberry farm, Wiseacres Organic Farm, almost literally in our backyard. Even still, we were late for school that day, but it was all in the name of STEM, so it was OK, right?
I didn’t take any pictures of us picking these wonderful berries, I think subconsciously I didn’t want any evidence of us intentionally skipping school.
As we picked from the plants, the kids started to notice the differing levels of berry ripeness in their quest to find the perfect berry (I just wish we had seen the flower stage, maybe next year). Although when the kids started to over analyze things “Is this a good one? How about this one?”, we had to stress that in order to go berry picking you actually needed to pick something.
Then we had to get to school. The morning bell had already rung and morning announcements were over.
But when they got home from school we began the berry jam trifecta (this also became a thing). We are freezer (no cook) jam folks in our household. But the same science applies. I must thank the folks over at Compound Interest for this wonderful explanation of “The Chemistry of Jam-Making.”
It’s all about the chemistry, baby. The sugar, the pectin, the fruit all at just the right pH leads to a chemical reaction perfect for spreading on your morning toast. Totally Culinary Chem happening here!
Although my kids have never officially gone raspberry picking. They are pretty skilled at the task thanks to the patch that grows in their grandparents’ backyard. When they pick in their patch, they often return with 2 raspberries in their basket and a tummy ache. We did need to stress that picking at Paulridge Berry Farm, requires that the berries actually go into the basket and not in your tummy. They must have listened because their baskets filled up at a rate much faster than mom and dad.
We coined a phrase during this expedition, “We found a Jackpot!”, when you stumbled across a section just filled with perfect ripe berries.
There is only one bad thing about raspberries. When those tiny seeds get stuck in your teeth. This annoyance led to the kids putting on their investigative hats to discover where these little seeds are located in the berries. We found them! Can you?
We made more jam and a raspberry pie just to celebrate the science of food some more.
The last berry in our trifecta was the blueberry. Mind you, we almost skipped this one, with a Heat Warning in effect there was little motivation to go out into the hot fields to pick berries. But our commitment to completing this task persevered. We found a blueberry place not too far from us, BerryBlue Farm. None of us had ever been actual blueberry picking before, so we were definitely about to embark on a new adventure.
The first thing we noticed is that the entire patch is protected by netting, to help keep the birds from self-serve snacking. And yes, “Jackpots” were plenty. We could see examples of berries at different stages of ripeness based on their colour.
And like all the other berries, jam and pies were a plenty.
We are pretty happy to complete this Berry Trifecta. Fortunately we picked so many that we had no choice but to freeze the leftovers. Looks like we will be able to continue to live this summer adventure over and over again until say NEXT summer.