Blackberries 101

Emma B’s Rules of Blackberries.

Blackberries are brilliant but dark, sweet but tangy morsels that literally burst with juiciness. Some of my earliest memories of time spent with my Grandfather are of summer evenings picking blackberries, usually on a country roadside or along a railroad right of way.  His favorite picking container was an old metal gallon paint can, cleaned out of course. Blackberry patches were secret treasures. We would hide from view if we heard a car coming so as not to reveal “our” patch.  For the best blackberry experience, there are some guidelines to follow:

  1. The ripest blackberries will fall off the vine into your hand with just the lightest tug from your fingers.  If you have to pull very hard, the berry is not ready for picking.
  2. The ripest blackberries will look very fat and shiny.
  3. Avoid the thorns with a slow and gentle approach to picking.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings.  You may be sharing the blackberry patch with someone – or something – else. Birds, bears and turtles also have a hankering for blackberries.  Bees and wasps may gather juice from the ripest berries, and spiders often build a web somewhere along the patch perimeter.
  5. Never pick all the berries you see, leave a good percentage for wildlife even if you don’t see any other creatures around the patch .
  6. Smaller containers, a pint or less in size, will minimize the number of squished berries at the bottom of the container.  A folded paper towel in the bottom will cushion the bottom dwellers from damage.
  7. Eating berries as you pick is encouraged for quality control purposes.
  8. Dave’s Corollary:  When picking blackberries along a road or trail, never pick berries below the leg height of the tallest dog in the area.
  9. If you do not have purple staining on your hands and clothing after picking blackberries, you are not applying yourself sufficiently.
  10. Fresh blackberries go best with home made hand-cranked, partially melted ice cream or for breakfast on your cereal.  The milk is poured OVER the cereal and blackberries.
  11. Never pick more than you can eat fresh in a day or two.  Plenty more will be ripe and ready tomorrow.
  12. Blackberries can be frozen for later use.  Place waxed paper on a baking sheet.  Rinse the berries in water, and place individually on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between the berries.  Place in the freezer until frozen solid, then simply pop the frozen berries off the waxed paper and into a freezer container.  This prevents the berries from becoming a frozen glob that you’d need an ice pick to break up.  The waxed paper is reuseable many times. Come February or March, you’ll be thankful that you have juicy plump blackberries for your breakfast.