Monday, September 2, 2019

Favorite U-Pick Farms

Nothing brings me more happiness than the U-Pick season, which generally starts in the middle of July and goes until Octoberish, depending on what you want to pick.
It's very important to us to have fresh, good quality  ingredients in our dishes. Not only do we provide quality food to our customers, but we also support local farms.

The first time we went picking, we had to learn the hard way that preparation is the key. I ended up sunburned with huge mosquito bites on me. So, before you head out to your local farm, I'd like for you to consider a few things.

1. Give them a call to make sure they got the crops ready to pick. We like to go on our day off, which is a Monday,  but most farms get busy over the weekend, so there is not much left to pick. I'd hate for you to drive 30-40 mins to find out that they out of your items that you want to pick.

2. If you decide to go on a weekend, go early. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you'll also avoid the sun and the heat.

3. Check the weather forecast. Driving 30 miles out, wasting gas and then finding out there is a thunder storm coming your way.

4. Most farms only accept cash/check as a form of payment. Make sure you bring enough with you, or call them to verify if credit cards are an options.

5. Dress the part. Keep in mind that most of the farms will be muddy, especially if it rained recently. I always keep a pair of rubber boots in my trunk. A pair of gardening gloves comes very handy. We got ours at the Dollar Tree for a $1, they help keep my manicure in check. Another thing that's available at the Dollar Tree are straw hats, great for keeping the sun out of your face.

6. Bug spray is a must. Especially if the farm has been watering its produce.

7. All the farms that I have recently been to sell their own containers, or provide them for free.

8. Learn how to pick your produce. When picking pickles, I would always go for the biggest ones, well, turns out, bigger is not always better. Pickles need to be 3-4", my mother told me, otherwise they will taste sour.

9. Once you get home, make sure you handle the picked produce properly. You don't want to spend all day in the sun and not store it the right way, letting it go to waste.

Alright, now that we've got everything out of the way, let's talk about some of the farms that we like to visit.


For the berries we like to go to the Johnson Farm & Produce in Hobert, IN.

They provide you with their own buckets, which are $10 to fill. I always recommend filling them as much as possible, because they will charge you the $10 fee regardless how full the buckets are. When you purchase five buckets, you get one for free. The strawberries, which we use the most are very juicy, not dry like the ones you get at the store. Let's face it, farm-to-table will always be a better options, not only do we cut out the middle man, but we also cut down on the travel time from the farm to the grocery store.




We generally go there for the picking only, but if you have children, it's a great place for family entertainment. Besides the kid friendly activities, there is also a garden center for flowers and already picked fruit,  along with a bakery that sells strawberry flavored donuts. Yum!

For more information check out their website:
Johnson's Farm Produce


The farm that we visit most often is Bultema Farm in Lynwood, IL. They are one of the largest u-pick farms in the South East suburbs of Chicago. They offer a variety of vegetables & fruits at very low prices. There is a $2 entry fee per person. At the entrance you're also able to buy mash bags for $0.50 a piece and containers for $1 otherwise the produce is sold and measured by the pound.

Peppers (gypsy & sweet) are our main vegetable.  We use them for many things such as our Sopska Salad and we also stuff them for our "Punjene Paprike" dish (stuffed peppers).


Tomatoes are next, and those we use for pretty much every dish on our menu. The smell is amazing, I always tell my mom that the smell reminds me when we lived in Belgrade, Serbia, she used to take me to Bajlonova Pijaca, which is a farmers market in the city. 
When picking tomatoes, we have recently started picking them while they are still greens, which will make them last longer.

For more information, including pricing, hours and regulations please visit their website at:
Bultema Farm Stand


I actually found this Stade's Farm by search for sunflower fields near Chicago. I thought it would make a great instagramable moment. To my surprise I found a huge apple picking farm along with other great fruits like raspberries. I actually went there for the first time, today a year ago, on Labor Day. I was in my flip flops and it just had rained the day before. No need to tell you more. This particular farm is located in the northern part of Chicago suburbs in McHenry County, close to Wisconsin.

The Sunflowers are huge as you can see and only $1 when you cut them yourself. They provide you with a cutting tool. There is a lot of bees flying around them, so you have to be careful. 

We also picked raspberries that day and I remember them being a bit on the pricier side, or at least I thought so. They had a few different sizes of containers available and we picked the largest one which was $10. Raspberries are a pain to pick, since they are so small and delicate. 

Like the other farms, they also offer kids activities, along with a market and bakery.



We did not pick apples that day, as it started to rain not long after we got to the farm, but their apple season starts each year on August 31st, so now would be the time to do so. Also, the sunflowers won't last for a long time, if you want to have your own "instagramable" moment head out there soon. 

For More Information:

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