Monday, August 18, 2008

Larriland Farm - Blackberries, Peaches and Tomatoes

The peaches and the blackberries at Larriland Farm were as delicious and as abundant as I have ever seen them.  We went Saturday and picked so much that we ran out of cash.  (It's okay.  They take credit cards in the fields.)

I'm sunburned.  Mrs. HowChow spent the weekend baking pies and making batch after batch of sorbet and ice cream.  We love Larriland (and went for blueberries last month), and even we were surprised at how wonderful the picking was this weekend.  You just need to walk past the picked-over areas hugging the road.  A few hundred feet inside, there were yellow peach trees with two dozen ripe peaches on a single tree.  Each peach glowed yellow under the red cheek.

Larriland is one of the great food adventures around.  Nothing beats the taste of a peach still warm from the sun.  We passed 
one back and forth as we drove away, and it's the flavor of summer.  Plus, it is great fun to stop at a friend's house with a bag of glowing gifts to share.

One bit of advice:  Don't judge blackberries by color.  They turn color before they get sweet.  Mrs. HowChow and I only picked engorged berries -- black and each sphere swollen with juice.  I pulled with the lightest possible pressure and left behind anything that didn't come off.  Some of the ripest fell apart in our hands.  But I overheard a couple talk about the blackberries and comment on how tart they tasted.  Oh, no!  They were picking beautiful black berries.  But those weren't ripe yet.  The best picking was deep in the bushes.  We pushed aside vines -- thornless, so it's a pleasure -- and found bunches inside.  It takes patience to pass the smaller berries, but Larriland's bushes were so full that it wasn't a hardship.  We picked more than 7 pounds by working two 
rows and we couldn't have walked more than 30 feet.  

In mid-August, the flowers remain a great deal -- $7.50 for a chance to walk the field and fill a huge plastic cup.  Stems droop a bit on the drive home, but they perked up once we got them in vases.  Larriland's tomatoes are about to become wonderful.  There were thin pickings last weekend, but the plants are covered with green fruit in many different varieties.  I got three nice ripe ones, plus an equal number of green ones to fry up one night this week.  In a few days, you'll be able to fill bags on a single row.

Definitely check on the apples that are coming, plus the Halloween/pumpkin fun in October.  Larriland is expanding its barn store, and they sell all the vegetables and fruit there -- along with jams, candies, juices and other products.

Pick-your-own runs from late May or early June when the strawberries ripen until the first weekend in November. There are multiple varieties of many fruits -- plums, peaches, strawberries, etc. -- so the seasons stretch over weeks or even months. Check out the Web site, which lists the products and predicts when they'll be 
available. Then check that Web page or call Larriland's (410-442-2605) to find out what they have today. It's a recorded line, updated daily.

If you go on a Saturday, definitely stop at the farmers market on Rte 97, especially for fresh milk from the South Mountain Creamery.  The South Mountain milk improves even a homemade pie.  Bring a cooler if you stop on the way to Larriland so that the milk stays cool.

If you like farm-fresh produce but can't get out to Woodbine, then check out the Columbia farmers markets where the farmers will come to you. Or if you're going to Larriland on the weekend, stop either at the Saturday farmers market or at Jenny's Market -- a family-run produce stand just off Rte 32.

Larriland Farm
2415 Woodbine Road
Woodbine, MD 21797

NEAR: This is off I-70 west of Rte 32. Take I-70 West to Exit 73. Turn left at the end of the exit ramp. Then follow that road through a circle and then along a road of farms and new developments. Larriland is on the left, although the blackberry and peach fields are across the road.

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