Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day Trippin at Petals from the Past

Black and Blueberry Festival by Leigh Bratina
Summer is here and for me summertime means fresh fruits and vegetables. I recently made a trip to Petals from the Past in Jemison, Alabama to the Black and Blue Berry Festival. I arrived early in an attempt to beat the crowds from getting the freshest, biggest berries, but when I saw the parking lot, I realized that there were others who had the same intentions as I. For $10.00, I purchased two one pint berry baskets (Quart baskets are available for $7.00) and went in hot pursuit to the fields for my bounty. The blueberry patch was first. There were rows upon rows of different species of blueberries.
Petals from the Past does encourage pickers to sample the berries so that one can decide their favorite berry for picking. I decided upon the climax berries with their sugary sweetness and went to picking and sampling. It did not take long for me to fill my basket, being that I brought along some great helpers: my two youngest children and my niece, to help me pick. I decided that this was to be a memorable trip for them, like one of days past when families picked the fields together.
After filling the blue berry basket, we moved onto the black berries, which were huge! The patches at Petals sure beat picking wild berries on the side of the road where you have briars, ticks, and snakes to contend with. At Petals, all you have to worry about is picking that perfect berry. And it really isnt a worry, because the berries are beautiful and plentiful.
After our picking session ended, we purchased bottled cokes for the children, who were tired and hot, but admittedly had an enjoyable time.
Inside the gift shop was a freezer of pre-picked berries, so I purchased some additional berries for baking. I highly recommend Petals; these berries are so wonderful in taste. I do not know if it is because they were handpicked but the berries at Petals are far more superior to what you can purchase in the supermarket. In the meantime, we are still enjoying blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler, blueberry pancakes, blueberry buckle, blueberry cheesecake, blueberry smoothies and the list will continue to go on for months after picking season. A tip, if you do freeze your berries, do so by placing them on a baking sheet and putting them into the freezer. After the berries have frozen, transfer them to freezer bags and date the bags. This process will eliminate them from freezing in one big lump.

Petals in the Past is open 9AM to 5PM Monday through Saturday.
It opens at 1PM on Sundays.
The farm is about a 30-minute drive from Birmingham, Alabama.
Take interstate 65 south to exit 219, exit right and turn right. Take the first left, the farm is one mile on the left.
For more information on Petals from the Past and their seasonal fruit picking times, visit the web site at http://www.petalsfromthepast.com/

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