A lot of things come to mind when you say blueberries. Cobbler. Muffins. Clear, overpriced, plastic cartons at the grocery store.
But when I think about blueberries, I think about summer, and I think about Mama’s.
The heat wave billows into Georgia long before summer actually gets here, but to me, it’s not really summertime until I’m able to go to my mom’s for fresh, fat blueberries, picked right off the bushes. And this past Sunday, I rang in the season with a basketful.
Tips for picking blueberries:
- Opt for the ones that are more blue than purple. They’re sweeter.
- Get all up in the bushes and don’t be afraid to reach. Some of the best ones are towards the top. They have more access to all that gorgeous, yummy sunlight.
- Steer clear of fire ants. Bites will ruin your blueberry picking, and your day.
- Snack as you go. Obvs.
- Watch for birds and deer. They are seasoned competitors and will not hesitate to usurp your progress and eat your bounty
Another great thing about Mama’s. It’s not just blueberries up for grabs. The backyard garden is full of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, zucchini and jalapeños — grown right beneath the glaring, Georgia sun.
If the only produce you’ve ever eaten has come from the grocery store (or even the farmer’s market), you’re missing out. There’s something beautiful and symbiotic about getting down in the dirt and pulling a fresh tomato off the vine, or plucking off a bright, yellow squash blossom and taking it inside to cook for dinner. It’s food you’ve grown with your hands, put into the ground and nourished with time and tender care. And that’s reflected in the way it tastes.
You’re forced to slow down and acknowledge all the work it took to grow that food, and cook it, and feed it to the people you love and care about. That means that food or meal isn’t just good for your body. It’s good for your soul, too.
And that makes it soul food.