I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Klassens is an absolute favourite and must do for families. It’s a wonderful experience for kids and heck, we adults kinda like it too.
We caught up with Tyler in his “blue bomber” golf cart at the start of the blueberry season and spent the morning with him, walking through the field, picking blueberries, eating blueberries and just talking blueberries.
Tyler’s grandfather originally owned the farm in the 1960s, growing strawberries, apples, peaches, pears, plums and all sorts of fruit trees. He opened it to the public in 1967 for pick your own and that’s when it first became a public farm. In 1979, Ted Klassen took over the farm and decided he was going to plant blueberries.
“The same year I was born,” says Tyler. ” So you can say I’ve been in this my whole life. I love running pick your own, being with the customers out in the field, selling the crop right off the bush. It’s just what I do.
Today, with over 35 acres, Klassen Blueberries is now a well known family destination. Celia looks over the shop, Ted takes care of the farm, and Tyler oversees the day to day u-pick operations. Blueberry picking normally runs from mid July to Labour Day weekend in September, depending on availability, but that doesn’t mean the Klassens are relaxing the rest of the year. The off season is spent preparing for the next summer.
“What we do in the off season has a lot to do with what direction we want to take the business,” explains Tyler. “Growing the bushes is kind of secondary now. My dad has it figured out and he does his thing, he’s the guy that knows how to grow blueberries and produce these amazing crops. We kind of leave it to him. A lot of time is spent trying to figure out what new products we are going to try, should we try a different system, how many employees we should hire and what kind of marketing will be doing.”
Once the pick your own season starts, it’s busy. On average the farms sees about 150 carloads to 200 a day. The Klassen store usually opens a couple weeks before blueberry season starts selling blueberry pies, jams, milkshakes and their amazing blueberry sauce, a Klassen recipe.
For all you blueberry milkshake lovers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the store has “upgraded” their straws.
“Now you can suck up a whole blueberry through the straw,” says Tyler.
Tyler is calm cool and collected and a constant presence in the field. You’ll see him zipping around in his blue bomber, ensuring everything is running smoothly, picking a blueberry here and there and chatting to customers, many of whom have been coming to the farm for years and he knows by name.
It’s being out in the field and building those relationships with customers that span over years, that he loves most.
“I heard it said many times out here that you can’t get it any fresher than right off the bush,” explains Tyler. “It’s a great family experience. Lots of families come out and show their kids that this is where food comes from. We’re a family friendly farm and we enjoy having people out here. It’s just a fun summer destination.
So what’s Tyler’s favourite blueberry treat?
“We do a Klassens blueberry dessert contest at the Harrow Fair each year, and publish the recipe in our flyer the next year. So this year there is a blueberry cheese bundt cake and it’s the most delicious blueberry dessert I have had in about 15 years. And it’s now my new favourite thing to make for myself. But my other favourite thing to do with blueberries is stick them in the freezer and eat them frozen. They’re like perfect popsicles. They’re delicious, they’re sweet, and I just love eating them that way. That’s my favourite way to eat blueberries.”
Since the season has begun, I’ve been out to the farm at least three times. Needless to say I have been enjoying the abundance of blueberries in our home. What I can’t eat fast enough, we preserve for the winter season.
Preserving blueberries is easy. Give them a wash then lay them out onto a towel to ensure they are thoroughly dried. If not completely dry, they may stick together in the freezer. Lay them in an even layer onto a baking sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Pop them into the freezer for a day then transfer them into a freezer bag. Make sure you remove as much air as possible before zipping it closed.
While there are plenty of berries on the bush, don’t wait too long. Blueberry season is but a fleeting moment in time.
If you’re not into picking your own berries then just head over to the Klassen Blueberries store. You can pick up fresh picked or frozen blueberries by the pound, frozen yoghurt with a ladle of homemade blueberry sauce (Celia’s own recipe), blueberry milkshakes, pie and of course, blueberry jam. Store hours are 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily, mid July to Labour Day.
RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Fool
Here’s a recipe that is quick and easy for summer and an ideal make ahead dessert. A British dessert, a fool traditionally is made of fruit folded into whipped cream.
Since I’m mildly obsessed with lemon curd at the moment, I decided to pair a blueberry compote with freshly made lemon curd and whipped cream.
- 1 cup Klassen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
In a saucepan, add blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down. You don’t want them to completely break down as it’s nice to have a few berries intact. Let the sauce cool.
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
Place the sugar, juice and zest into a saucepan. Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add egg yolks and stir with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Keep on eye as the mixture cooks and stir consistently as you don’t’ want the eggs to “scramble”. Remove sauce pan from the heat and transfer the curd into a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. It will continue to thicken.
- 1 cup whipping cream (35%)
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
Whip the cream and sugar until you get stiff peaks. Keep in fridge until ready to use.
Once all the ingredients are ready to go all that’s left is the layering. Start with the lemon curd, placing onto the bottom of clear cup or bowl. This could be a stemless wine glass, a small canning jar, or any glass vessel. You want to be able to see the layers. Next add the whipped cream, then the blueberries. Serve.