K and I tried out Bowman Orchards, over in Rexford, yesterday afternoon. It was cloudy, and the air was full of so much humidity, it was almost sort of gross. It was our first time berrying at this place, and we weren’t sure what to expect. But they had red raspberries and blackberries for picking, and Indian Ladder had a bad raspberry season, and doesn’t offer blackberries at all.
After saying hello to workers in the store, we found out Bowman is a little different than Indian Ladder. First off, there’s a tractor with a long cart to bring you out to the fields, instead of the ability to walk or drive your car closer to the field. However, they charge $2 per person for doing so (though there’s no choice). It kind of annoyed us, and we felt silly sitting in the back of this long cart that could have clearly held 20 people, being driven to the raspberry field. Plus, I can’t imagine how good the gas mileage on that tractor is – so it seems a waste of money and emissions.
But on second thought, we decided we couldn’t begrudge them a good way of bringing in a little extra income to cover other costs. I mean, outside of Big Ag, small time farmers are not rich people. And, which pollutes more, the tractor or lots and lots of cars driving to different fields?
So we rode out to the raspberry field (or one of them, anyway) and made our way through it. It was so hot and muggy, I felt almost claustrophobic between the rows. There were tons of raspberries, but most of them were overripe (do many people come to this place?) and full of mold.
Which was most likely because of all the rain we had this summer, shame. And furthermore, there were honey bees EVERYWHERE. K told me that honey bees are very docile and it takes a lot for them to sting you, but I was really nervous. Still, he must have been right, because we made it through without getting stung (and we couldn’t go a foot without coming into contact with 3 or 4 every which way).
It was really hard to find good raspberries, even though there looked like there were tons of them. Took us 45 minutes of hard labor before we got 2 quarts worth. K really wanted to skip the blackberry picking, but I was looking more forward to that than the raspberries. So we got
back on the tractor cart and rode it a short way to the blackberries. We got off and looked at them. They were huge and ripe and looked gorgeous! So prolific, we were done picking two quarts in 10 minutes! So we balanced our quarts while riding the bumpy tractor cart back to the store to pay for it all.
The berries were $4.29lb, which sound a bit pricey, but in the store you get 6 oz. for approx. $4 and even at the farmers market, you get only a 1/2 pint for $4. We ended up with 6 lbs of berries!
Then we saw they had homemade ice cream for sale and I HAD to get some. I was hot, sticky, and homemade ice cream seemed like the perfect topper to the day. I got S’mores ice cream and hubby got Chocolate with globs of peanut butter mixed in. So freaking yummy!!
Then, later on in the day, we made red raspberry and blackberry jam. We ran out to Bed Bath and Beyond to look for butter molds, didn’t find any, but found a perfect 4 quart Farberware pot to use for making jam. Hubby has been using the 6 pot quart we usually use for jam to make tomato puree (we’re going to make sauce tonight) so when we saw this, it was just what we needed. Plus, my mom gave me the Farberware stainless steel pots she used in my household growing up, so they’ve lasted 20 years and are still going strong. Why not just add to the collection instead?
So…a little boiling and sugar later…
A few more jars to add to the pantry! Not to mention, we had about half a quart left over of each berry. Tonight we’re having fish for dinner, and making a blackberry/raspberry chutney to go with it…yum!