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How to Pick Blackberries

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How to Pick Blackberries

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Overview

Growing blackberries rewards the home gardener with a supply of summer berries for years to come. The plant is easy enough to grow that, depending on the size of the patch, most of the work is in the picking. The fruit doesn't store well and blackberries don't continue to ripen once off the plant, so pick blackberries every day while the plant is fruiting. It's worth it: besides being delicious both fresh and cooked, blackberries are nutritious. A cup gives half the vitamin C and 22 percent of the fiber you need daily.

Step 1

Get up early. Berries should be picked in the coolest part of the day after the dew has dried.

Step 2

Wrap the suede patches around your forearms, wrapping and tying the thongs around the patches to create gauntlets. (If the blackberries you'll be picking grow on thornless plants, you don't need the gauntlets.)

Step 3

Apply bug repellent and head outside.

Step 4

Pick only the dullest, darkest berries, using a slight tug. If the berry doesn't come off easily, it isn't ripe enough.

Step 5

When your hand is full, place the berries into the container. Don't fill the container more than two inches deep.

Step 6

Reposition yourself once you've picked clean all the ripe berries from the side you've been working on.

Step 7

Check the plant from its underside and between canes for hidden berries. When you find them, reach in carefully if there are thorns.

Step 8

Put filled containers in the shade immediately or take them inside.

Step 9

Put the berries on a tray to pick through them, discarding any that look moldy, diseased or damaged.

Step 10

Rinse those you're going to immediately eat with cold water. Alternatively, spray with a one-part-vinegar, two-parts-water solution, then rinse.

Step 11

Store berries you're going to eat within a few days in the refrigerator without washing them.

Step 12

Wash, drain and freeze berries you can't eat within a few days.

Tips and Warnings

  • Stop as soon as you get snagged on a thorn. These tend to hook you, so don't pull out from the plant. Instead, gently move back inward, using a hand to hold the cane still. Check yourself for ticks afterward if you pick wild blackberries.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 large suede or leather patches (optional)
  • 4 to 6 long thongs (optional)
  • Bug repellent (optional)
  • Sun block and/or wide-brimmed hat
  • Several shallow containers
  • Spray bottle filled with one-part vinegar, two-part water solution (optional)

References

  • University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension: Fruits and Nuts - Blackberries
  • PickYourOwn: Blackberry Facts and Picking Tips
  • University of Kentucky: Enlisting Blackberries in the Fight against Cancer
Keywords: blackberry picking, blackberries, blackberry care