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Pick Some Berries, Then Pick Some More

Food writer Judith Hausman is picking, eating, canning and baking berries. Here are some tips for the picking -- and the baking.

It's berry season. Picking berries is a fun outing for families and freezing, jamming or short-caking the little beauties together is terrific, too. Click here to find the closest u-pick farms in Westchester County.

Just before July 4, I headed up the Taconic Parkway to Secor Farms in La Grangeville, NY and before I knew it, I had more than 15 pounds of bright and sweet strawberries, the most flavorful berries I've picked in years. A long stretch of dry sunny weather meant no "ewwww" fuzz or mold on the berries or plants at all. As I stooped to part the serrated leaves, there were always more fruity treasures hidden beneath, and just like a pint-sized picker, it was a three-for-the-basket, one-to-eat proposition. I froze five of the halved and barely-sugared quarts and made rhubarb and strawberry jam, but kids will love them just straight up on their Cheerios.

Blueberries are now ready to pick at Secor. And wild blueberries, high and low bush, are also flowering prettily in yards and on the ledges of local parks. And, as invasive as the bristly briars can be, blackcaps, cloud berries, wild raspberries -- or whatever you call them -- are just about ready to pick if you can beat the birds (and the bears) to them.

Here's a super-easy recipe for Biscuit Shortcakes. Cut the circle in eight pieces for big servings and in sixteen pieces for smaller. Then top with berries and whipped cream or ice cream.

1 ½ c. white flour

½ c. whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbs. sugar, optional

2 Tbs. canola oil

1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt, buttermilk or cream

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix quickly together, adding more dairy if necessary, to form a soft dough. On a floured surface, pat the dough into a ¾" circle. Cut into 8 or 16 wedges. Separate the wedges and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 20 at 400, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Read more of Judith's work at The Hungry Locavore.

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