Berry Picking with Kids

Growing up in Alaska has resulted in a life long love of eating fresh blueberries right off the bush. When I was young my mother and aunt would always take all the girls out berry picking for the weekend. Sometimes we would set up camp other times just day trips, each day filled with my cousins and I eating more berries than what made it into our buckets. We would hike out to my aunt’s most “secret” berry patches and spend hours picking berries and enjoying the serenity that comes with it. After we’d get home we’d spend more time cleaning out extra leaves and stems, rinsing and storing the berries for the winter, mostly just freezing them for fresh blueberry shakes.

Now I am the mother who is getting to enjoy the hours of berry picking while listening to my two little ones munching away instead of filling their buckets. There’s almost nothing more enjoyable than a weekend near my favorite creek picking and eating fresh blueberries. We will eat fresh berries with burnt marshmallows for a camp dessert, fresh chilled blues with eggs and bacon for breakfast and grilled steaks smothered in mashed berries. When we come home my daughter who is four is always excited to help clean and organize the berries for storage and she’s already learning how to make fresh blueberry pie. Teaching my children how to identify blueberries and harvest them without destroying the plants has been extremely rewarding not only in extra picking hands, but because they are always so excited about finding berries, returning to old berry patches and of course, how purple their mouths turn after a day of eating fresh blueberries.

My son’s favorite blueberry recipe other than simply eating them fresh has got to be the shakes I grew up on as a kid. It seems like he’s always asking for mommy to make shakes and so although super simple, that is the recipe I would like to share, a two year old can’t be wrong…

Alaskan Blueberry Shake:

fill the blender with frozen AK blueberries

pour in milk about 3/4 full

add about a cup of granulated sugar

about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

and a dash or two of ground nutmeg

blend well and enjoy with a fun curly straw.

As you can tell we don’t exactly measure when we cook, but we mix according to our taste buds. This can be easily tweaked to fit your preferred tastes and to add a little kick try a dash of ground ginger or about a teaspoon of orange zest.  LH Fairbanks

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