As is its habit, summer is flying by.

The strawberry season has come and is nearly gone, and its upcoming exit has signaled the start of another highlight on the Minnesota food calendar: the appearance of locally raised blueberries and early season raspberries.

Many farms are reporting bumper crops, and those berries aren’t going to pick themselves. Enter the pick-your-own world. To the uninitiated, going the U-pick route has many benefits, including (generally) lower prices, plenty of free samples and unlimited access to fresh air and sunshine.

Then there’s the taste factor. Eating something you’ve picked yourself just somehow tastes better. It’s a sweat equity thing, right? But proximity also breeds superiority; there’s no denying the quality of locally raised, just harvested berries vs. their bland, shipped-across-the-country counterparts. Truly, there’s no comparison.

A few tips: Fragile berries require refrigeration and should be consumed within a few days of being picked. Do not rinse berries until just before eating them.

Berries and the freezer were seemingly made for each other. Spread unrinsed berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer berries to plastic freezer bags or containers.

Before heading out to pick, always call ahead to verify availability (all farms listed are in Minnesota unless otherwise noted) and be sure to carry cash. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen. Now get picking.

 

Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib

 

BLUEBERRIES

Brunswick, Wis.: Appledore Woods Berry Farm, County Road HH, 1-715-834-5697, appledorewoods.com

Champlin: Bauer Berry Farm, 10830 French Lake Road, 763-421-4384, bauerberry.com

Eleva, Wis.: Blueberry Ridge, E2795 Hageness Road, 1-715-287-3366, blueberryridge-orchard.com

Forest Lake: The Berry Patch, 10456 92nd St., 651-433-3448, ­berrypatchmn.com

Forest Lake: Covered Bridge Farm, 18655 Forest Blvd., 651-464-0735

Maiden Rock, Wis.: Rush River Produce, W4098 200th Av., 1-715-594-3648, rushriverproduce.com

Menomonie, Wis.: Blueberry Hills Farm, N7900 County Road J, 651-303-3372, blueberryhillsfarmwi.com

Monticello, Minn.: Strawberry Basket, 2591 Aetna Av. NE., 763-878-2875, strawberrybasket.com

Nisswa, Minn.: Wallin Berry Farm, 8214 County Road 18, 1-218-963-7456

Northfield: Little Hill Berry Farm, 4339 320th St. W., 1-507-301-7183, littlehillberryfarm.com

Northfield: Silkey Gardens, 5561 115th St. E., 1-507-645-4158, silkeygardens.com

Princeton, Minn.: J.Q. Fruit Farm & Orchard, 8082 33rd St., 763-389-2567, jqfruitfarm.com

River Falls, Wis.: Blue Ridge Growers, 246 Carlson Lane, 1-715-425-8289

St. Cloud: Blueberry Summer, 3290 65th Av. SE., 1-320-259-7890, ­blueberrysummer.com

St. Francis: Roselawn Heritage Farms, 24069 Rum River Blvd., ­roselawnheritagefarms.com

Stillwater: Blueberry Fields of Stillwater, 9450 Mendel Road N., 651-351-0492, ­blueberryfieldsofstillwater.com

Watkins, Minn.: Leafblad Produce, 67784 330 St., 1-320-693-2486

Westboro, Wis.: Nelson’s Berry Farm, W4929 Gunnar Road, 1-715-427-3440, nelsonberryfarm.com

 

RASPBERRIES

Anoka: Berry Hill Farm, 6510 185th Av. NW., 763-753-5891, ­berryhillfarm.com

Clear Lake, Minn.: Grayson’s Berryland, 6705 County Road 8 SE., 1-320-743-3384, graysonsberryland.com

Elko: Thompson’s Hillcrest Orchard, 6271 250th St. E., 952-461-2055, ­hillcrestorchard.org

Forest Lake: The Berry Patch, 10456 192nd St., 651-433-3448, ­berrypatchmn.com

Greenfield: Knapton’s Raspberries, Pumpkins & Orchard, 5695 Hwy. 55, 763-479-1184, knaptons.org

Hastings: Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 S. 90th St., 651-436-8385, aftonapple.com

Hinckley, Minn.: Ben’s Berry Farm, 34921 Two Rivers Road, 1-320-384-7232, bensberryfarm.com

Mabel, Minn.: Wold Strawberries, 22988 Berry Dr., 1-507-493-5897, woldstrawberries.com

Marine on St. Croix: Natura Farms, 19060 Manning Trail N., 651-240-0087, www.naturafarms.com Monticello, Minn.: Strawberry Basket, 2591 Aetna Av. NE., 763-878-2875, strawberrybasket.com

Nisswa, Minn.: Wallin Berry Farm, County Road 18, 1-218-963-7456

Northfield: Lorence’s Berry Farm, 28625 Foliage Av., 1-507-645-9749, lorencesberryfarm.com

Northfield: Silkey Gardens, 5561 115th St. E., 1-507-645-4158, ­silkeygardens.com

Princeton, Minn.: J.Q. Fruit Farm and Orchard, 8082 33rd St., 763-389-2567, jqfruitfarm.com

Raymond, Minn.: Brouwer Berries, 12951 105th St SW., 1-320-967-4718, brouwerberries.com

River Falls, Wis.: Blue Ridge Growers, 246 Carlson Lane, 1-715-821-8289

Rochester: Firefly Berries, 5542 23rd St. NE., 1-507-252-1309, ­fireflyberries.com

Rosemount: Bohn Farm, 17801 Clayton Av. E., 651-967-3276, bohnfarm.net

St. Cloud: Blueberry Summer, 3290 65th Av. SE., 1-320-259-7890, ­blueberrysummer.com

Watkins, Minn.: Leafblad Produce, 67784 330 St., 1-320-693-2486

Westboro, Wis.: Nelson’s Berry Farm, W4929 Gunnar Road, 1-715-427-3440, nelsonberryfarm.com