Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Weekend Wanderings: Berry Picking in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug

Now that autumn is on the horizon, we're rounding out towards the end of berry season. This may surprise you but last week, I spent an evening 'urban foraging' with a pal here in Amsterdam and picked nearly a kilo of fresh blackberries! Most of them have now been devoured, plopped on top of ice cream or Greek yogurt, whipped into smoothies or frozen for later use. I'm thinking of making these muffins with the extra blackberries, so many delicious possibilities!

Knowing my fondness for picking fruit, my Dutchman took us for a surprise day trip  in the nearby province of Utrecht. Our Saturday began with a visit to Huis Doorn, the estate of the German Keizer Willem II where he lived and eventually died, in exile, after WWI. We were especially curious to check out the historic property after our recent visit to Berlin.

After a (very long, very detailed) tour of the estate, my brain was begining to melt from two hours of listening to Dutch. We both needed some fresh air headed to the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a ridge of hills and forests spanning 6,000 hectors...and just happens to have a lot of blackberries too!


We wandered up and down the hills (yes, actual hills!) in and out of oak and pine trees with out anyone else in sight. I love the quiet serenity of being in the woods, its a nice break from dodging tourists on my bike in Amsterdam's buzzing city center (ha!). My soul needs to be near a city, isolation is not for me, but maybe my spirit would be keen on country life if my sweet chicken Tallulah could join me here in Holland! September has only just arrived and thankfully, the change in season (and much cooler weather) hasn't banished green leaves quite yet.

Drizzly weather enhanced the forest's rustic smell.
Don't you love the smell of rain? It's soothing, fresh and earthy.

Blackberries are my favorite berries of all and such a tasty snack. It's a lot more fun to pick them for free versus shelling out cash for over prices berries at the grocery store! Continuing with our recent berry picking trend, we plucked a lot of bramen along the way! My Dutchman was really getting into the flow of seeking out big, juicy berries, despite the prickly brambles. Eventually, we sought out a perfect sunny spot that seemed virtually untouched by other foragers and made away with almost another kilo of fresh, yummy berries. 

While living in the Chicago area as a little kid we had a sizable raspberry and blackberry bramble in the back yard and I remember picking and munching berries all summer. The thing is, I enjoy eating the fruits of my labor while picking so, I usually end up with very purple fingers, a full belly and a half empty fruit basket. Oops. All in a delicious days work!

Do you also enjoy picking your own fruit? Last autumn, a few of us went apple picking too!
If you have any suggestions for nice spots for urban foraging or zelf plukken here in please share them! 


  1. Anonymous10.9.13

    Yummy. I want my back yard again!

  2. Sounds perfect!! I'm making a small trip to a farm in Nuenen later this month, I hope I can find some berries also!

    1. Nice! I've visited Nuenen too, did you know Van Gogh lived there? Have a good time maybe you'll still find some berries if the sun stays around a bit longer!

  3. Hi! just stumbled upon your blog.. was looking for an expat blogs in the netherlands..
    love your posts! i've been reading it for a couple of hours already :)
    Hope we can keep in touch :)

    1. Hi Olivia, Nice to hear from you, thanks for checking out my blog!