While I cannot claim to have reached the heights of being able to recognize common weeds as edible salad greens, and foraging through parks for rare fruits to pick, I can pick blackberries! Last year, I could be found with Elena on my back in an ergo baby carrier, dodging thorns while I picked blackberries in the cool of the evening. This year, I have been trying to pick blackberries for a short amount of time in the morning and evening as it’s the season of blackberry picking in the Northwest. Elena is found either in her stroller or standing nearby enjoying blackberries as I pick. You may be wondering why someone with so many other things to do (and who is behind in many other areas), is spending an hour every day picking blackberries. Let me explain.
We are now in a beautiful blackberry season. While the rain we have been experiencing was not good for some of our local crops, it has done wonders for the blackberries. They are large, abundant, and sweet. Not only that, but they grow wild everywhere in my area. You only have to jump in your car and drive a few miles and you will see them on the roadside everywhere. I have the added advantage of being able to pick them in my backyard.
If I take advantage of this abundant wild crop, I will have a freezer full of nutrient rich, free food.
Blackberries are extremely high in the antioxidant scale (which fight against free radicals). They are high in vitamin c and e and could be helpful in fighting against cancer and heart disease. So for the price of a little work, I can have healthy, nourishing berries in my freezer for use the rest of the year.
Nourishing free food? Sign me up!
And, of course, they make some of the most delicious desserts and snacks. They are wonderful in smoothies and muffins and make great pies and cobblers. I will be sharing a few of my new favorite blackberry recipes soon as I have been having some fun in the kitchen with them.
I have sent a little cup full with my husband with his lunch a few times, which he has greatly enjoyed. I realized that it’s the perfect “nourishing portable food“! Simple and easy. (I am hosting a carnival on the topic of Nourishing Portable Food in two weeks. Join us if you can, as we share how we pack lunches that are both portable and healthy. I would love to hear how you meet this challenge!)
So, that’s why I have been risking blackberry scratches in the pursuit of these juicy little morsels of nutrition.
From a somewhat seasoned blackberry picker, allow me to give a few tips for anyone interested in picking their own supply.
Blackberry Picking Tips
1-Wear jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and closed shoes. Blackberries do have large thorns, so protect yourself.
2-If you don’t have them in your backyard, scout out safe roadsides, empty lots, or friends property in the country for wild blackberry bushes, if you are lucky enough to have them in your area. Just make sure they haven’t been sprayed.
3-It’s always tempting to be in search of a “better” picking spot. Once you found a spot, stay there and collect all berries you can see. You will end up with so much more than if you wandered around looking for a better spot to pick. Sometimes you will see just a few berries, but as you stoop or reach to pick them, you will notice a whole cluster that was hidden from view before.
4-Go when it’s cool so you don’t get overheated. Morning and early evening have worked wonderfully for me.
5-One of the most important tips, only pick ones that come off easily with a slight tug. Looks can be deceiving. They may look dark and ready to pick, but if you pull them of when they aren’t ready, they will be sour (and, interestingly, they won’t have as many antioxidants either)
6-You could probably use up all of your picked blackberries in pies, cobblers, jams etc. But I really enjoy getting enough to freeze for year round. I find that if you freeze them right away, they won’t get mushy and freeze in a hard lump, but freeze as individual berries. Sometimes, when I get a little tired of picking, I remind myself how much money it would cost to buy a few pounds of organic blackberries in the store. It’s a great motivator. I also set a goal of how many bags I want in the freezer.
7-My sister came up with this method of being able to reach father back in blackberry bushes. We take a large, wide board and throw it in the middle of a large bramble. We then walk down it until it’s flat and all of the thorny branches are underneath. We are then able to reach berries that we weren’t able to before. It works quite well! Sometimes, you can also just stomp down a few places with your shoes and find amble picking.
8-Don’t push yourself so much that you aren’t able to enjoy the pleasure of being outside gathering your own produce. It’s a nice feeling to bring back to your house a bowl full of blackberries as the fruit of your work. Enjoy it.
This post is part of Frugal Friday