Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Craigies PYO Farm, Near South Queensferry

Last year we spent a lot of time trying to go to Pick Your Own farms, but the only time we actually made it to one, it had been raining too heavily that week and the PYO fields were closed. When the sun struggled through the clouds on Sunday morning, we headed out to Craigie's Farm to grab some strawberries while we could!

The farm is just outside Edinburgh, with a great view of the airport! I kept hearing "thunder" only to realise it was a plane landing! You can also see out over Edinburgh to the surrounding hills, and over the Forth to Fife. After wandering around in the shop for a bit, we eventually found the pile of PYO punnets at the entrance to the fields.

View to Fife

We started off in the Strawberry rows, and soon filled a large punnet with 2kg of strawberries. The plants were not all completely ripe, so it was fun digging around under leaves and trying to spot the ripest ones. It was also great to sample a few berries along the way, although it probably wasn't the most hygienic thing you could do.

Spot the Ripe Strawberries...

Carrying our massive basket of strawberries, we headed over to the gooseberry bushes. They were quite spiky and we got a few nips off some of the more thorny branches. We didn't pick quite so many of these, but I wanted to try the Valentine Warner recipe for gooseberry snow, so we settled at half a small punnet (about 500g).

Finally, we trekked down to the bottom of the farm for the outdoor raspberries. These were the easiest to pick, as unlike the strawberries you didn't have to crouch down so low, and the bushes weren't spiky like the gooseberries. I don't think I've ever seen a raspberry bush before, and it was interesting how the raspberries left their white conical hulls on the bush. I always assumed that raspberries must have been hollowed out in a factory somewhere! As the raspberries were off the ground, they weren't as muddy as the strawberries, and for a while I was following a "one for the basket, one for me" style of picking! Fortunately for Craigie's profit margin, the Scottish weather started closing in, and we hurried to fill our punnet before the rain soaked us.

T hard at work in the raspberry field

As we walked back to the farm, the threatened rain didn't quite appear, so instead I took some arty shots of the punnets. We also passed redcurrents and blackcurrents, but we didn't get any of these on this occasion, although we did enjoy playing at being farmers! There are also lots of other PYO items that haven't come in to season yet, so I'm already planning the next trip!
Craigies PYO Fruit

Although we spent a fair bit of money, we got a lot of fruit. We didn't realise quite how good a deal we got until we stopped at Sainsbury's on the way home. We'd paid £3.99 per kg for our raspberries, but the ones in the supermarket were £8.84per kg! The cheapest supermarket strawberries we could find were £4 per kg, compared to our ones at £3.49. The supermarket fruit looked pretty sad in comparision to the stuff in the car boot, which had been attached to a plant less than an hour ago.

We ate the first batch of strawberries that night with cream, to maximise the freshness. I think some of it will end up as jam, while the excess raspberries and gooseberries are probably headed for the freezer, or summer puddings. I can't wait!