Things we learned on our trip to Blue Pearl Farms:
- When you are gentle with the bees, the bees are gentle with you.
- Sometimes a berry that is blue is not always a perfectly ripe blueberry.
- We reeeeeeeeeally want to go back in September and see the Atlantic Blue Crab harvest.
After loosing ourselves for a moment we finally found Blue Pearl Farms, located in McClellanville, SC, right up Highway 17 from Charleston.
We arrived, met the husband and wife duo, and jumped right into a beekeeping lesson with expert bee whisperer, Cheri. I did not know it when I put on my best farm gear that morning (black yoga pants and a black tank top) that I had dressed myself up as a bear. So, Alfonso was the one who got up close and personal with the bees and I put on a white t-shirt I had in the car and a mesh hat so I could get close enough for pictures.
First up: If you want to bee keep, you should wear a suit.
I don’t know anything about bees’ inner thoughts. However, I imagine that if my caretaker was as gentle and knowledgeable as Cheri and I lived on an organic blueberry farm, I would most definitely be a happy bee. We learned that bees recognize the faces of their caregivers, so Cheri has a couple of practices that make them love her even more when they see her. She always gives them a little sugar water spray to let them know she’s a fun person to be a bee around and she never smokes them out of their home to get the goods, so as not to stress them out. Who wants honey from stressed out bees?
While we were watching, Cheri began to take out some frames from the box to show us how the bees work. Did you know it takes ten drops of nectar to make 1 drop of honey?
Another fun fact: Bees are attracted to the Wi-Fi signal in our phones, so snapchat at your own risk. It was so funny. At first I thought I was imagining it because Cheri had told me about the bees and the Wi-Fi, but they seriously buzzed at me when I was using my phone and slowly buzzed away when I had stopped. Maybe it was their way of telling me to get off social media and pay attention!
Before the bee session was over we got to taste some honey right off the comb! It was smooth and beautifully sweet with a little wax to chew on. This is how all honey should taste. It opened up the palate and left a broad floral note singing in my mouth long after we had moved on to the next stage.
While Cheri changed out of her beekeeping clothes and in to her blueberry picking clothes, Robert showed off their blueberries, not that they needed much talking up.
Blue Pearl Farms “follow[s] organic and sustainable principles, relying on mulch, compost, and natural materials to support plant health. [They] use no synthetic chemicals and will always be GMO-free.” (taken from their website) I love that this is their policy.
We got to see heritage rabbiteye blueberry varieties all over the farm, even some that continue to produce after all of Charleston’s blueberries have been picked and sold. These particular blueberries were just beginning their ascent in to the blue, even now, in June.
Robert picked lots from the bushes for super necessary taste testing. He gets us.
As we were wrapping up, Robert showed us their canoes and told us about rowing down the waterways in the Francis Marion National Forest, which backs right up to their farm. He generously offered to let us come canoe one day and check out all the alligators sunbathing in the South Carolina waters. Yes, please!
Before we left we had to get a shot of some of their scrumptious products that can be found at the Saturday morning Charleston Farmer’s Market and the Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market, held on Tuesdays. Do not think twice about stopping to visit them and picking up some of their delicious goodies! I believe you can also order some things online.
Cheri sent us home with blueberries, honey, and some Blueberry Chipotle Barbeque Sauce- they sure do know how to take care of a chef and food blogger! I made a breakfast cake with the blueberries with some cinnamon honey butter to smear on top (recipe below), but we couldn’t help sneak a few when we stopped at the beach on our way home.
Honestly, I would probably prefer to eat the whole thing of blueberries straight from the container, but I wanted to see how they tasted in a yummy baked good. You know when angels place a little heaven in your mouth and all other food taste terrible by comparison? THAT’S how they tasted. The moral of the story is: It doesn’t matter if you eat them raw or you eat them cooked, just eat them.
You can just go ahead and drink the honey butter with a straw while you wait on the cake to bake. I halved this recipe, except I used a very full half cup of whole milk, 2 regular sized eggs, and added about 3/4 cup of toasted walnuts. I also made them in 2 large dishes for a more cake-like feel.
Honey Butter for Blueberry Walnut Breakfast Cake
1/2 stick softened butter
2 t honey (preferably Blue Pearl Farms raw honey )
1/2 t vanilla
freshly grated cinnamon (as much as you like)
Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Place in a serving container and refrigerate for 10 minutes to slightly harden back up. Serve with the breakfast cakes.
We sure enjoyed our visit to Blue Pearl Farms and we look forward to incorporating their products in to our future pop-ups. Their property was beautiful, their spirits gentle, and we hope to visit again one day.
Tomorrow we are headed our to check out some chickens and their eggs- talk to you soon!