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U-pick blueberries: The season has arrived

blueberries

U-pick blueberries at Cranguyma cost $2/pound.

Summertime on the Long Beach Peninsula marks the beginning of blueberry season, a crop that thrives on the coast and is available for public picking.

One of our favorite late-summer activities is plucking fresh blueberries from the u-pick orchard at Cranguyma Farms on Sandridge Road in Long Beach. The only thing better than the blueberries might be the price – a pound of self-picked berries costs just $2.

Old-time favorite

Cranguyma Farms is a fifth-generation cranberry, blueberry and holly operation covering 900 acres in the middle of the peninsula. A seven-acre organic blueberry patch is available for public picking between July and early October. The farm is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and entrance is free.

blueberries

Picking blueberries is a leisurely outdoors activity.

Be sure to bring a bag or use one of the provided cardboard boxes to tote the blueberries home. And if you don’t feel up to picking your own fruit, Cranguyma usually offers pre-picked berries available by the pint of 5-pound flat inside the shed near the entrance.

Blueberry picking is a leisurely, thoughtful activity with an almost-meditative quality. The patch is quiet and sprawling, and the biggest and best blueberries are often found on lower branches or tucked-away bushes. Many berries are soft and ripe and require a delicate hand to be taken off the bush intact. It’s easy to lose yourself in the process, to let minutes tick away and pile up like berries in your bucket. It’s perfect for every member of the family, and kids will love the labyrinthine quality of the decades-old grove.

Cooking with Blueberries

And what to do with that bucket full of fresh berries? For starters, they’re practically perfect on their own – just rinse them off before snacking. They’re also excellent with oatmeal, sprinkled over a summer salad or added to a bowl of cereal. But that’s just the start. Cranguyma offers recommended recipes from Joy of Baking, including blueberry tarts, scones, pies, breads, muffins, parfaits, pancakes and more. And you can save them for later – blueberries freeze well, so you can store them for months.

As summer turns to fall, you’ll begin to see another coastal crop hit the market – cranberries. Keep your eyes peeled for roadside stands during autumn months, when peninsula bogs come alive with ripe cranberries. These tart berries can be used much like blueberries and of course hold a special place on the Thanksgiving table.

Wild Mushroom Celebration

We often talk about the natural bounties found in the ocean, bay and rivers of Pacific County, but the land produces spectacular items as well. Blueberries and cranberries are just two of the many offerings. Another favorite are wild mushrooms, which are highlighted by the annual Wild Mushroom Celebration from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15. Keep an eye on the event website as participating businesses join the celebration.

Upcoming events:

Jazz & Oysters, Aug. 19, Long Beach.

Washington State International Kite Festival, Aug. 21-27, Long Beach.

Pacific County Fair, Aug. 23-26, Menlo.

Waikiki Beach Concert, Aug. 26, Cape Disappointment State Park

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