August is high season for blackberries in and around British parks and gardens, with just a few simple steps and tools you can pick several liters of it in less than an hour and use it in a wide array of dishes and preserves. Of course you can go and buy them in the store but why not pick them yourself, save money and be 100% sure that they are not sprayed with pesticides. As with most commercially grown fruit the berries you buy in the store is picked when it is almost ripe, meaning that they will never be as sweet as a berry that has ripened fully on the plant. A basket of about 200g’s of blackberry can cost anywhere between 2-4 pounds, meaning that you can save a lot of money doing it yourself when they are in season. So here is my greedy guide on how to pick blackberries.
Finding a spot to pick
Brambles or blackberries grow almost like a weed in Britain. You can find it along hedges, in parks and in most woodland. We always try to pick ours in areas that are not too close to roads so that we avoid any bushes and berries affected by exhaust fumes. Ideally you should also try to avoid any berries close to the ground if you are picking them in a place where dogs get walked frequently or else you might find that your precious conserve tastes “funny”. Also make sure there local gardeners who take care of the parks and trees don’t have a habit of spraying them with pesticides on a frequent basis. If you are unsure then stick to forests or ask the local authorities.
When picking blackberries there’s a couple of techniques that are vital to know. Firstly the berry will not let go of the branch unless it is ripe. If you are struggling getting a berry off the plant it is likely to be unripe and sour, move along to the next one. Secondly the berries will ripen from the tip, meaning that the berries furthest out on the branches are always the ripest. Armed with this knowledge it is usually best to always start from the tip of the branches – that way you will automatically know if the berries further in are ripe, if the one in the tip is unripe the others will be too.
It is important to remember that the blackberry bush is very thorny so it is wise to wear something that covers your arms and legs – it might even be worth wearing gardening gloves if your skin is sensitive.
Once you have picked your berries it is a good idea to leave the bag or container out for a few hours so any bugs can crawl out. We leave ours in the shed over night and it works fine.
Before you use your berries, rinse them well and pat them dry carefully. I love to eat them raw and add them to anything ranging from desserts to salads. Why not try my avocado mousse chocolate cake? It brings out the sweet qualities of blackberries in a perfect way. Click the picture below for the recipe.