Tuesday, 8 September 2009

How to: Mrs J's Guide to blackberry picking!!!

Depending on where you live in the UK there should be blackberries of varying ripeness all around you now and here is my own little guide to harvesting them....


Find Locations - Blackberries are regularly found in hedgerows, try paths, car parks, waste / scrub land, overgrown allotments and gardens.....If you are too late to pick this year, note where you have seen the bushes and regularly check them throughout next summer for progress.

Supplies - You'll need some pots to collect your berries in. I generally recommend a rag or piece of kitchen towel in the bottom to collect juice / bugs.

Clothing - wear old clothes, ideally long sleeved and trousers too. Don't forget to wear shoes not sandals and you'll be able to get in better areas. This is do as I say not as I do... last trip I wore sandals cotton skirt and white linen top!!!!! Luckily I'm well practiced so couldn't resist and impromptu pick!

Freezer - If you are not using your berries straight away you can freeze them till you have enough for a recipe. Make sure you have enough room to flash freeze them on trays on your return.

Helpers - In my opinion you're best off doing this by yourself, children eat all they collect and husbands even though they can reach higher are quickly bored - yes Mr J I mean you!!!


Blackberries are best harvested on a sunny dry day. Before you start picking, walk up and down the whole of the hedgerow. Blackberries often vary vastly in their ripeness even over a hedge of 50ft. In early September my favourite hedgerow has ripe succulent berries at one end and bushes still flowering at the other!! Pick the ripest berries first, come back regularly (I do every 3 days). A great ti is to look from various angles and heights into the bushes, I discovered my 5 yr old son was getting a great haul because the best blackberries grow under the leaves of the bush, and that's the angle he could see and I couldn't!!!!!!

Beware of:-

Prickles - wild brambles have thorns, watch where you put your hands or wear gloves!!
Foragers Thumb - the juice will stain your finger a lovely shade of purple!!
Nettles - Blackberries often grow above stinging nettles and the nettles intertwine with the ripest fruit. Or to quote Little Miss Jones

" Come to Blackberry World get a free ticket to Stingerland!!!!"

Cover yourself in long sleeves and trousers, and watch where you put your hands.
Wildlife - be careful not to disturb nature to much (nests and other plants) and watch out for wildlife on the blackberries wasps and fruit flies feast on the overripe berries and little grubs can live inside them. If this concerns you make sure you give everything a quick wash when you get home, I can't stop my kids eating shiny ripe ones off the bush!!!!!

What are your best tips for picking blackberries????


  1. They look delicious. What will you be making with your haul?

  2. He he. The first time I took my husband black berrying he said..... " there are lions and tigers and bears in there " Tip one: take a walking stick. Tip two: do not take dogs...they eat them off the bushes.

  3. What a great post! I've been making pear crumble a lot as my father in law's tree is laden with them, I may just have to add some blackberries to the mix now I've read this post, yummy! :) x

  4. Jo - blackberry and apple jam, blackberry flapjack and fresh blackberries so far. I've frozen lots because I'd like to have a ggo at blackberry and elderberry wine!!
    Penny - wonderful tip walking sticks always help reaching the high branches!!!
    Lucy - I have serious pear envy here, all our young pears were knocked from the tree when our neighbours put up a new fence :( pear and blackberry crumble sounds delish!!!

  5. Great post.
    We are going this weekend and I am really looking forward to it.

  6. We've just been picking blackberries along our creek down here in the southern hemisphere. All the families living on our farm got out gloves and boots and large buckets and waded in amongst the thorns - wild berries thriving along creek beds are a very different beast to the humble (and still delicious) thornless garden variety. There's something about wrestling your harvest from the claws of nature that gives it an extra tang! Maybe it's the laughter getting all tangled in there together along the way...

    And we've been getting big bags of field mushrooms too... The Girls took a whole lot to school for their teacher today.