Navajo Berries (and how to prepare a disaster)

by Fruit Maven

I hope you didn’t misread the title. This isn’t a post about how to prepare FOR a disaster, but literally how to create one on your own.

First you take an eight hour road trip with a four year old and you barely drink water because you don’t want lots of potty stops. Next you arrive in a remote area outside of Bakersfield, California to visit a farm for U-pick fruit and a petting zoo. Third you should wear a long sleeve flannel shirt. (No it is not 1995, nor am I a farm girl, nor am I a hipster. I really can’t explain this choice of shirt other than to say it was cold when I left Nevada at 5:30 in the morning. But that doesn’t really explain why I own this shirt in the first place.) Fourth, it needs to be roughly 95 degrees outside. Fifth, pack your child in to a gigantic, heavy metal wagon and add a number of empty buckets. Totally weight should come in over 50 pounds if possible. Now haul her through the dirt and look for fruit.

Please be sure to do this on a Monday, the day after they have had a weekend festival so the trees are basically barren or full of unripe specimens. Don’t apply sunscreen and don’t bring a bottle of water. Also wear crappy shoes. And there you go…DISASTER.


At some point I realized I was breathing fairly heavy and my flannel had been removed and tied around my neck to cover my bare shoulders and we were quite a distance from any other living beings. Nonetheless, I pressed on like an idiot because darn it, we were going to get some nectarines off a tree if it killed me. Except we didn’t get nectarines because I never found them. I kept getting lost in the pluot section. I vaguely recalled that getting lost was the beginning of hypothermia and then quickly reassured myself I was hot not cold, so I must be fine.

I can’t imagine what I must have looked like once I got us back to the cashier. My tank top/bra combo wasn’t particularly appropriate for being seen in public without the aforementioned flannel and my face was bright red and sweaty. It couldn’t have been pretty. Luckily I did not bring my camera.

Not one to be defeated, we took a quick break and headed out to the berry section. These were also mostly picked over but we found some fantastic blueberries (Jubilee variety turned out to be my favorite) and picked an assortment of blackberries. Ultimately I bought a bag of these Navajo berries that some other more prepared human being had picked for us, and I’m glad I did. The ones I picked were a mix of tart and crunchy, whereas these are like a little burst of blackberry jam. Delicious and highly recommended if you can find them.

Navajo Blackberries

APPEARANCE Rating: ★★★★☆

Petite little balls of black beads with brown hairs throughout.

AROMA Rating: ★★★½☆

Faintly sweet.

TEXTURE Rating: ★★★★★

Soft, tender and juicy.

TASTE Rating: ★★★★★

Deep, robust berry flavor with a musky undertone.

OVERALL Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I want to describe these as grapey, but they didn’t taste like grapes so I’m not sure why that word keeps popping up. Maybe they remind me of concord grapes with their sweet and musky flavor. They are complicated and interesting. I’ve never had a blackberry I liked more than this. I could eat them for weeks or months or years. They seem to be keeping really well in my refrigerator too, unlike many of the other berries I purchased, which more or less wilted after a few days. The sign just said “Navajo Berries”, but in doing some research they are in fact Navajo Blackberries. I hope you can find some. Totally worth the hunt.

FRUIT
Blackberry
PEAK
Late Spring
PURCHASED
Murray Family Farms
VARIETY
Navajo
GROWN
Murray Family Farms
Bakersfield, California

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