For my entire life this time of year has signalled purple fingers and perma-scratched ankles because it is blackberry picking season (or bramble depending on where you and your family are from). A time you’ll find me with my back to the world and my head buried in a bush. Going back to school always signalled picking berries on the way home and blackberry jam bubbling on the stove top.
The country becomes laden with free fruit and leaving the house without a bag or pot of some kind is a criminal act. For over a month, if you fancy some fruit take yourself off to a river bank, alley way, hedgerow, park or almost anywhere be it countryside, town or city and take what you need.
BLACKBERRY PICKING TIPS
1. Take a pot or bag to carry them in – when desperate/forgetful I use a (unused and unscented) dog poo bag to carry home my berry swag. I tend to find milk cartons really useful for picking berries as they have handles, so I keep a clean one by the front door and try to take it with me when I walk the dog.
2. Keep your eyes peeled because blackberries can crop almost anywhere. Sometimes you’ll see great swathes of them and other times you’ll find just one shoot poking through a bush offering you two ripe berries to snack on (resist until washed). They don’t tend to grow beautifully and it can all look a bit messy (see photo below) but you can’t mistake those jewel like berries.
3. Don’t pick too low – that’s dog pee territory.
4. Don’t pick from too high up – they’re for the birds. In fact as a rule of thumb I tend not to pick any I’d have to struggle to reach because they’re for someone else who can reach or wildlife.
5. Don’t be greedy! Only take what you need – others are living by this rule so you can have some, so it is only fair you return the favour.
6. Don’t pick from the side of busy roads, just bleugh. Even though you’re washing them the crap pumped out by cars and mud splattered up the bushes doesn’t make roadside berries too appealing to me.