The Brook Cook: Picking your way through the berry season


J. Hooker

These fresh strawberries, picked during the summer at a nearby farm in the Triangle, are vibrant and delicious. Berry picking season is here and is the perfect time to stock up on fresh, locally grown produce!

Justine Hooker, Section Editor

  There is nothing better than a fresh ripe strawberry in the peak of spring and summer! Spring and summer are the seasons that produce some of the most beloved and delicious fruits and vegetables. From strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches, there is an abundance of fresh produce to add sweetness to your life.

   The climate in North Carolina during the spring and summer months is perfect for growing berries, peaches, and other produce. A great way to support local farms, get out in nature, and spend time with your family and friends is by going picking! Many farms around the Triangle have u-pick options that allow people to come and fill up a bucket of berries or produce. May is the start of the strawberry season, so now is the perfect time to grab a bucket and head to the fields. Porter Farms and Page Farms in Raleigh, Pope’s Strawberry Farm in Knightdale, and DJ’s Berry Patch in Apex all have u-pick strawberries starting this month. Lyon Farms in Creedmoor has a great selection of u-pick produce. They have strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and tomatoes available for customers to pick! Senior Gannon Hollar said, “My family used to go strawberry picking, and we would use the strawberries to make strawberry shortcakes.” Berries are full of nutrients like antioxidants and are high in fiber which makes them the perfect addition to any breakfast or add-in to any dessert.

   If you cannot snack your way through the buckets fast enough, there are easy ways to preserve them and delicious ways to prepare them. Freezing frozen berries is one of the best ways. To prepare strawberries, wash and dry them. Then either cut them in half or leave them whole and put them in a freezer-safe bag. Other frozen berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be left whole as well upon freezing. Frozen berries especially are great to throw into smoothies. Here is an easy smoothie recipe to enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack!


*one fresh/frozen banana

*one cup of frozen berries 

*one tbsp of nut butter

*half to one cup of liquid


  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

  Another great way to make use of fresh berries during spring and summer is to make homemade jam. Many jams and jelly on the market can be filled with processed sugar, oils, and preservatives. By making it homemade, you can enjoy it all the same, just a little healthier. This recipe is for chia seed jam. Chia seeds are superfoods loaded with nutrients. They have one of the highest sources of omega-3’s. Chia seeds create a gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid, making the jam thick like traditional ones from the store!


*one to two cups of berries 

*one tbsp lemon juice

*one tbsp maple syrup or honey (optional, depending on sweetness of berries)

*one to two tbsp chia seeds (depending on preferred texture)


  1. Place berries in a small saucepan and turn the stove to medium heat. 
  2. Stir the berries around until their juices release.
  3. Use a fork or potato masher to mash the berries into a smooth texture
  4. Add the chia seeds and stir.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the burner and pour the jam into a bowl to allow it to cool and continue gelling. 

*Tip: For easy clean-up, immediately rinse the saucepan so the chia seeds will not stick. 

  Make use of this fruitfully abundant season and beautiful weather and go picking! Get outside and get in the kitchen with The Brook’s Cook!