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It's berry season!

Pick-your-own strawberries--yummy, sweet and definitely worth the effort!
Pick-your-own strawberries--yummy, sweet and definitely worth the effort!
Jennie Hardenbrook

I realize the red, white and blue celebration was last weekend, but the fresh, juicy red and blue berries that are available at the farmers market are something to celebrate as well!

All the Northeast Ohio farmers markets have fresh blueberries, raspberries and cherries available right now! You just have to decide which market you want to visit in order to purchase your berries. The next decision you will have to make is what are you going to do with those yummy berries?

One thing you could do is make a fresh three-berry pie for the family. My choice would be to make some homemade jam with the berries. The jam is easy to make and it’s such a nice way to enjoy the berries long after their season.

It’s also the season for pick-your-own berries at several locations. I just purchased some fresh-picked blueberries at Blue Jay Orchards this afternoon. Even though I did not pick them myself, I’m enjoying the plump, juicy beauties right now.

I’m waiting for my raspberry patch to start bearing fruit. In about three more days, (weather permitting), we should have enormous amounts of those mouth-watering, sweet-tasting beauties.

The berries are late coming on, but last year I was picking raspberries around July 10 and continued through July 25. I have said all along, living in Portage County has its benefits.

We have ever-bearing raspberries, so technically this is the second picking from last year’s crop. The first picking for this year’s crop should start sometime in September and last through frost.

Ever-bearing raspberries can be very persnickety. They like warm days and warm nights and lots of moisture.

I usually freeze the bulk of the raspberries for jam-making in the fall. After all, everyone loves the smell of homemade raspberry preserves simmering on the stove. Oh, I’m already hungry for a PBJ sandwich or homemade ice cream with preserves on top!

There are so many things you can do with blueberries, cherries and raspberries. You can make homemade ice cream, pies, a tart, or maybe some breakfast bars for the kids who are playing outside for a treat -- the list is endless! The most enjoyable, though, is just eating the berries right off the vine!

Happy picking!

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