What is the perfect family outing on a sunny summer day? For some lake area families it is a trip to the Auglaize Berry Patch.
Dick and Diane Kautzman woke their granddaughters up early on Tuesday morning, just in time to pick beautiful ripe blueberries. Their grandchildren were visiting from Indiana for a few days and the Kautzmans did not want them to miss a chance to pick berries.
"I like them because they are sweet and sour," seven-year-old Ruth said while helping her grandmother pick berries. Ruth enjoys eating the berries fresh while her older sister likes making blueberry pie.
"They're very good and sweet," 12-year-old Natalie Kautzman said.
The Kautzmans are full time lake residents and host their grandchildren in the summertime. Diane was impressed with the berry selection in the one-acre lot off of A Road.
"These are the best blueberries we have seen in a while," Diane Kautzman said.
Just a few rows over, four-year-old Brayson Manning and two-year-old Zane Manning were enjoying their first time picking blueberries with their mother Jamie Martin of Linn Creek.
"No green ones," Brayson said, reminding the pickers to steer clear of the unripe berries.
Martin had been to the patch before but wanted to share the experience with her two young boys.
"This is our adventure for the day," she reminded them.
When looking for that perfect blueberry, Jerry and Jeannette George, owners of the berry patch, recommend picking the dark blue berries without any pink on them.
Friend of the George family Gail Still says that if you want to make jam or jelly out of the berries, a few pink ones will do, but the dark blue berries are the best.
"Look everywhere. They do like to hide," Still said reminding pickers to look at the bottom and inside the bush to make sure that they do not miss the perfectly ripe berries.
Still enjoys making blueberry crisp and canning jams and jellies for her family with the berries. She also said that another tip is to freeze berries and eat them with yogurt later in the year.
"It's a little bit of summer all over again," Still said.
Still tries to visit at least two times during blueberry season.
"If I could I would be out here every day," she added.
Still and Jeannette George worked in the Camdenton R-III School District together before they both retired. George had always enjoyed picking blueberries and when she could no longer pick at her normal patch, she decided to grow her own.
One acre of blueberries was planted in 2005 and the first harvest came in 2008. The patch includes five different varieties of blueberries for pickers to choose from.
Page 2 of 2 - "They are an excellent fruit to snack on and an easy fruit to take care of," George said.
She added that if you keep the blueberries fresh, they will last five to six days. If they are frozen, they can last up to a year.