by Eva Martinez
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)
In the late summer or early fall, blackberry picking is a fun outdoor activity for the whole family. As the days become slightly shorter and the air a little cooler, head for your nearest wild blackberry bushes, taking along a few Tupperware boxes with lids, as well as drinks and snacks. Wild blackberries don’t just grow in the countryside. You can also find them in cities and towns. You may find them at the borders of fields, at the side of a road, or in a park or wooded area.
Choose blackberries that are black in color and firm to the touch. Blackberries that are a little juicy are also fine but discard any blackberries that disintegrate in your fingers as they are over-ripe. Leave blackberries that are green or red in color on the bush as they have not yet ripened.
Be careful of the nettles and thorny brambles surrounding the bushes as they can sting or prick your skin. If the weather is not too warm, it is a good idea to wear long sleeved tops with jeans or pants to protect your arms and legs. Gardening or work gloves can also be worn, perhaps just on one hand because it can be difficult to pick blackberries while wearing a glove.
Gathering blackberries is an excellent activity for people of all ages. Adults can pick blackberries from the higher branches, while children can pick from branches nearer the ground. Look for branches behind those that are immediately visible. These are likely to have richer pickings that haven’t already been pecked by birds or taken by other blackberry hunters.
Wash well with water before eating the blackberries that you have picked. They can be eaten on their own or accompanied by cream or ice cream. Add them to other berries or fruit for a delicious fruit salad. Blackberries can also be frozen in suitable containers and eaten during the winter. Ensure that you use or freeze blackberries within 24 hours of picking as they can quickly gather mold.
You can use blackberries to make jams, syrups, sauces or smoothies.