Here in the Northwest, we have the perfect climate for growing a variety of berries, which begin to ripen as early as May with the first strawberries. Growing your own berries, visiting a U-pick farm, and foraging for wild berries are all still viable options even with coronavirus restrictions. Also, with their abundant health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties, now is a better time than ever to stock up on these superfoods. Read on for more about popular varietals, U-pick options, and foraging.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2020 and updated in May 2021.
Available: Early May – June (with later varietals often available Aug – Sept).
Sweet strawberries are a favorite for kids of all ages. Juicy strawberries, like most berries, are delicate and easily perishable and taste best fresh within a few days of picking. They are also considered an easy-to-grow berry for beginners. Strawberry shortcake anyone?
For more information on planting, growing, and harvesting strawberries click here for The Old Farmer’s Almanac growing guide
Available: Mid-June – July.
Every time I bite into a fresh raspberry, it takes me back to summer in my grandmother’s garden, where I plucked the delicious fruits straight from the vine. Raspberries are available from about midsummer to as late as the first frost and are delicious in jams and jellies.
For more information on planting, growing, and harvesting raspberries click here for The Old Farmer’s Almanac growing guide.
Available: July-September (late May – October in some regions).
Blueberries are by far my favorite berry. They are a little hardier, very easy to grow, and freeze nicely. One year, I planted a few bushes in my backyard, and they are among the lowest maintenance plants I own. They produce delicious berries for us to enjoy on cereal or eat by the handful, and they are especially wonderful on vanilla ice cream (store-bought or homemade). For more information on planting, growing, and harvesting blueberries click here for The Old Farmer’s Almanac growing guide.
Available: Mid July – Aug.
The Marion blackberry, marketed as a marionberry, is a blackberry hybrid and Oregon native. More about marionberry in the Spruce Eats here. Marionberries are delicious in all the ways you might enjoy blackberries. Baked desserts, ice cream, shakes, etc.
Available: Mid July – mid-August.
The Loganberry, a hybrid of a blackberry and a raspberry that resembles a blackberry, was accidentally created in California. If you like blackberries and raspberries you are sure to enjoy this delicious fruit.
U-pick berry (and fruit) picking is a fairly safe activity during COVID-19. Farms that are providing these services will likely have heightened restrictions and hygiene protocols, though, so plan ahead. Whether or not you go is dependent on your comfort level. Before you go, make sure to call your favorite farm (or visit their website), to learn about their new protocols to avoid any surprises. (When I called the farm we usually visit for strawberry picking, for example, I found out that they are only allowing children over the age of 12 as part of their heightened measures.) A few links with ideas of where to go:
PickYourOwn.org is a great reference for the greater Seattle area and Washington State.
The Parent Map guide includes 20 ideas of where to pick in and around Seattle. (Note, although this pops up as a new guide, it is a link to a post that was last updated in 2020.
Portland Living on the Cheap has a recent guide on berry and other U-pick farms in the Portland area.
Lane County (Eugene, Springfield, and beyond)
Willamette Farm and Food Coalition‘s Locally Grown is a wonderful resource for sourcing local foods, including U-pick options, and a map for Lane County farms.
Foraging for Berries
If you are not sure about U-pick as an option, foraging for wild berries can also be fun. Childhood summers for me always included foraging for blackberries, salmonberries, and red huckleberries around our land. Other popular wild berries include black huckleberry, red currant, golden currant, and salal. Disclaimer! Make sure that if you venture into the wild to pick your berries, you are well informed about what you are picking, and what you are ingesting.
More information about edible berries of the Northwest from the University of Washington here.
Choosing, Storing, and Freezing Berries
Last but not least, for more information about storing and freezing berries, check out this article from Better Homes & Gardens here.
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