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Labor Day Getaway: Best Blueberry Pickin' in Connecticut

Looking for a day trip getaway from Southington this Labor Day? Family fun and bushels of blueberries are just an hour away.

If you're looking for a fun family "staycation," you can't do better than heading to Bethlehem to visit March Farm, home of the best blueberry picking in the state. We make an annual pilgrimage and always come back laden with fruit.

In recent years, the third generation farming family that runs this operation has become entrepreneurial, adding a petting zoo, picnic tables and a pond—all free. And of course there's the farm stand offering a bounty of fresh veggies and home-baked pies.

But it's the blueberries that always draw us. And the pickin' is easy.

When you arrive, check in at the farm store for your bucket. They'll ask you for a $20 deposit or your driver's license, but you'll get 'em back. Then you head down the hill to the bushes and have at it.

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The great thing about blueberry picking, unlike the stoop labor of strawberry harvesting, is that the fruit is on trees as tall as you. Mind you, some of the ripest, bluest blueberries may be hidden a bit or are so juicy as to weigh down the branches, but you won't get scratched or dirty harvesting these treats. Hint to novice pickers: only take the ones that are blue or purple—the green ones won't ripen after picking.

When you've picked all you want (about 2-3 pounds in an hour), it's back to the farm stand for weighing. The blueberries are only $3.50 a pound. The three seasoned pickers in our family came home this year with 11 pounds in a bit more than an hour.

Of course, that doesn't count the berries we had to test (read: eat) to ensure we picked the best fruit. I always drop a buck in the "conscience box" near the scales.

When you get the blueberries home, wash some in cold water, spread them out to dry, and then refrigerate. They'll keep a few days, but you'll eat 'm long before then. To preserve the rest for consumption over the winter, follow these tips.

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