Good Food Blog
Pick your ownPosted at 12:02PM, 11 May 2012 by Lily Barclay - Writer, bbcgoodfood.com
Get a taste of the 'good life' this summer by heading to a local farm and picking your own fruit and veg - it's bound to taste better when it's been pulled from the ground with your own fair hands. And don't let being a city slicker put you off; there are about 1000 pick-your-own farms in the UK, which are mainly situated on the outskirts of cities.
What to pick
It's not just strawberries up for grabs, everything from courgettes to cherries to wild flowers to herbs can be found at pick-your-own farms up and down the country - with some farms having up to 40 pickings on offer.
Pickyourownfarms.org.uk provides a list of farms across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a region-by-region list of farms. Or you can enter your postcode at localsfoods.org.uk - for a list of your closest PYO farms and local food markets. Here's a few we've cherry-picked ourselves:
Copas farm, Cookam, Berkshire Available pick-your-own varieties includes asparagus, cherries, gooseberries, runner beans, French beans and peas - there is also an onsite shop that stocks picked products as well as jams, eggs, sausages and bacon.
Durleighmarsh Farm, Petersfield, Hampshire
Available pick-your-own varieties include wild flowers, herbs, tayberries, blueberries, sweetcorn, asparagus and much more - there is also an onsite farm shop.
Court farm, Tillingdon, Herefordshire
Available pick-your-own treats include damson, cherries, rhubarb, cob nuts, beetroot, cucumber, cauliflower, garlic and much more. A tea shop, farm animals, play area and picnic area are also all onsite.
Brocksbushes Farm, Corbridge, Northumberland
Pick-your-own fruits include raspberries, blackberries, tayberries and plums and you can also enjoy a woodland walk as well as the tea rooms and farm shop.
Whatfedale Grange, Harewood, Leeds
Pick-your-own fruits include whitecurrants, rhubarb, gooseberries and a variety of strawberries and raspberries, there is also an art gallery and potting shed where you can purchase products from a local painter and metalwork artist.
Once you've picked your bounty, here are a few handy hints on how to make it last...
To improve the shelf life of soft fruit, try not to pull of their stalks as you pick. Instead, grip it behind the head and sever the stalk with your fingernails.
Pickles, jams and chutneys are a great way of using up a glut of pick-your-own fruit and veg - get inspiration from our pickles, jams and chutneys collection
Full of beans
Broad beans are best picked when young and tender, although fatter ones can be good in soups like this summer veg-box soup.
Drying out fruit is a great way of preserving your haul, and one that's sure to be a hit with kids. Mix it up with muesli for breakfast and enjoy something like this dried-fruit compote
Bring your own
Bring your own baskets and containers for storing your fruit and veg, as farms will normally charge extra for these, it's also worth bringing some small, light baskets if little hands are also looking forward to some pick-your-own action.
Enjoy it. Picking-your-own is a great way of reconnecting yourself to the food you eat, and kids will love it too. Many farms also have picnic spots and cafes so you can indulge in some well-earned homemade cakes, local juices and ciders.
Do you have any Picking-your-own tips? Let us know below.