The epitome of summer for me as a child was clutching a little paper mache basket and carefully treading through the sandy lanes between raspberry canes and clusters of strawberry plants. I’d pick one for me and one for the basket (which I no longer condone), and the tell-tale signs of overindulgence would cover my t-shirt, followed by the inevitable “dicky” tummy.
“Pick-your-own” is an organised form of foraging that beats any sweetshop hands down. There’s something dreamy about the farms that I’ve always loved; I encourage anyone with children or simply an excitable disposition to head on down to your nearest PYO and go crazy in the strawberry fields.
As I have gotten older I’ve sought out new PYO experiences and happily travelled further to get them – there are so many farms with various offerings across the UK we can try now. Aside from the obvious raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants, there are also orchards and hen coups at some establishments, so we’re spoilt for choice.
Once you’ve found your farm it’s always good to phone ahead or check their website (if they have one) just to check they’re open and find out details of what PYO they have. Even if the weather is fine, don’t wear your best clothes (stains continue to happen even now I’m older) and bring a little basket to transport your spoils home – if they make it off the farm!
One of my favourite places for fruit picking has to be Clive’s Fruit Farm in Worcestershire. You can easily while away a day in Upton Upon Severn near the Malvern Hills on a summer or autumn day… they’re on Jamie’s Great Britain App too!
So what to do with your berry delights when you get them home? Apart from gorging myself, my Mum would always make a big summer berry jelly with the fruit suspended in an elderflower pyramid. I couldn’t help but work away at it over a day or two. It was basically a massive version of these summer fruit jellies from Jamie.
I love messing around with berries and fruit to make frozen treats like ice creams, sorbets and lollies. In fact, if you fancy making some of my latest concoctions then check out issue 51 of Jamie magazine in the UK. You can buy the magazine for just £3.99 at WHSmith, supermarkets and leading independent newsagents. Or you could subscribe, or download the award-winning digital edition from iTunes!
If that isn’t your bag then have a go at these PYO-inspired recipes…
This Italian blackberry tart is a winner and can be made with any berries.
For something a little more adult and for a great party drink try this Strawberry martini.
And for a party fave, try this simple but Show-stopping pavlova topped with fresh berries.
If you do have a free day this summer or autumn, support your local PYO farm; take the family, make a day of it and get gathering.
Header image by Mr.TinDC