Photo Credit: Jaina
“We would load up the yellow Cutlass Supreme station wagon and pick blackberries during blackberry season or spring onions during spring onion season. For us, food was part of the fabric of our day.” -Mario Batali
Post by Contributing Writer, Nada
With our sleeves tucked into our gloves, a hat to shield us from the sun, and a clean sturdy pail in hand, we now begin the summer/early fall right of passage: picking blackberries from the bramble bushes.
Oh how those succulent berries tease us from their safe little homes amongst the thorns and tangles of their bushes. But if you are patient, cunning and persistent, you can harvest for yourself a fair amount of these dark little gems. And when it comes to blackberries, the possibilities are endless.
If you’re on the hunt yourself, try to pick the berries that are dark, firm and dry. Avoid mushy ones that are past fresh, or that are slightly pink or reddish, as these ones are not yet ripe. Instead, look for ones that have a solid purplish-black color all across the berry.
Pick them gently with your fingers and drop them into the pail. It’s always a good idea to wear gloves to prevent being scratched and stained. In the past, I have taken old yellow rubber gloves and simply cut the fingertips off them, to be used for blackberry picking.
Photo Credit: Xosé Castro Roig
If you are letting someone else do the dirty work and are purchasing them from a vendor, watch the containers. Avoid ones that are stained or have liquid running out of them. These berries are squashed and overripe. Be careful that your berries aren’t moldy, as they do become fuzzy quickly after picking.
Blackberries are extremely perishable, so be sure that you are only picking enough to be used, prepared, or consumed, right away. Once you’ve got them home, store in a single layer in your fridge on a plate, and cover with paper towels or plastic wrap. They can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.
Once you’re ready to use them, sort through them. Be sure to toss any that are squashed, moldy, under-ripened, or shriveled. Keep only the choicest and prettiest berries for your use. Blackberries are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese.
When freezing your blackberries, wash them in cold water in a colander and let them air dry or pat them gently with a towel. Layer them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight, so they become little individual frozen berries. Once they’ve frozen hard, you can toss them in a plastic bag in whatever amount you wish, or in a large plastic bag.
You can then pour them straight out of the bag as you need them. You can also mix them with other frozen berries so they’re ready for smoothies, desserts, fruit salad, and other delicious treats, at any time of the year!
There are various methods of making jams, jellies, pies, coulees, sauces, and other spreads with blackberries. You can also make blackberry juice, which can be quite tart, or if you are comfortable with it, spirits and wines. They can be mixed in with other fruits in salads and pastries, used to make color in cosmetics, blended into smoothies and shakes, and even dehydrated to make delicious trail mixes and energy bars.
My own personal favorite is to make cobbler. My mother used to make this whenever we had excess berries, blackberry or otherwise. Here’s the recipe we used most often.
Photo Credit: Stef Noble
2 cups fresh blackberries, washed and cleaned, or 2 cup frozen berries, thawed
8 freshly baked homemade biscuits, split in half
Whipped cream, as needed
Split each biscuit in half and set in a bowl. Spoon berries into the middle of the biscuit. Top with whipped cream. Voila! An instant, elegant, easy, and even healthy late afternoon snack/dessert!
Nada is a first-time mom to a delightful little girl and the wife to a wise and wonderful man. With a background in fitness and nutrition, she enjoys healthy cooking, green cleaning and especially writing, and has acquired a vast knowledge of interesting little facts… about everything! She aspires to be a Godly woman that her daughter is proud to call “Mom” and through her blog, miniMOMist, she discusses how attachment parenting, minimalism, simplicity and frugal living help in her everyday mission.