It’s still blackberry season at our house.
Just yesterday afternoon, as our neighbors very kindly handed JR a half-dozen ears of (very sweet and delicious) corn from their garden, the three of them waxed on about how many freaking berries there are this year.
The canes around our garden abut their hay field, and so each of we two couples spend about fifteen minutes per day (separately. We don’t make a coordinated couples excursion of it), walking the perimeter, quickly harvesting a pint of shiny, plump berries. It’s just so easy.
If not for the thorns and pests.
But not to worry, thorns and pests may be circumvented with just a few helpful hints.
Most of these observations are also applicable to other foraging activities, like, for instance, foraging rose hips. ‘Tis nearly the season for those here in New England. Don’t miss out. Do make rose hip jelly.
Or blackberry jam. Or raspberry jam. Or the fruit preserves of some other thorny plant.
Without further ado, the the tips:
- Wear long sleeves, long pants (preferably sturdy ones, like jeans), and close-toed shoes. This will help – though not completely prevent – you from getting hooked on thorns, those thorns then slicing into your calf and releasing a trail of blood down into your loafers. Unpleasant.
- Focus your search on berries that are not entangled in other plants or that are too near the ground. Poison ivy just happens to grow along the ground and also climbs up into bramble here and there. You don’t want to insert your arm – even long-sleeved – into that mess, and you sure as heck don’t want to eat berries that have been entwined with poison ivy. This goes doubly for rose hips – poison ivy loves beach roses.
- That said, blackberry leaves (which, of course, are part of the plant, so not to be avoided) hide gorgeous, ripe berries. Change your perspective, and you’ll find that tons of berries are hanging below your line of vision. Bend down and take a look, there could be a whole pint there waiting to be discovered.
- You probably like berries because they’re sweet, and so, too, do stinging insects. Keep an eye out for bees, wasps, et cetera, et cetera as you harvest. It’s not fun to clamp your index finger and thumb around a bee’s belly (mine was a near miss. whew.).
- Hey, you know what other creatures like berries? Or at least hanging out among the canes? Snakes. I haven’t seen a lot of snakes in my harvesting, but I did once move to grab a berry, only to have a snake on an adjacent branch slither quickly away. Be alert, you don’t want to come that close to snakes (I’m just guessing. But I’m right, right?).
- And, of course, be sure to have an appropriate container in which to collect your harvest. We like to repurpose blue pint containers from the farm stand, though a bowl or basket or plastic container will do just fine, too.
- Store your berries in the refrigerator and don’t rinse (if at all – we don’t rinse ours, as we know they’re not sprayed with anything, aside from the occasional bird dropping, but then we don’t pluck those for our pint) until you’re ready to devour them.