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.
Get up early. Berries should be picked in the coolest part of the day after the dew has dried.
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.)
Apply bug repellent and head outside.
Pick only the dullest, darkest berries, using a slight tug. If the berry doesn't come off easily, it isn't ripe enough.
When your hand is full, place the berries into the container. Don't fill the container more than two inches deep.
Reposition yourself once you've picked clean all the ripe berries from the side you've been working on.
Check the plant from its underside and between canes for hidden berries. When you find them, reach in carefully if there are thorns.
Put filled containers in the shade immediately or take them inside.
Put the berries on a tray to pick through them, discarding any that look moldy, diseased or damaged.
Rinse those you're going to immediately eat with cold water. Alternatively, spray with a one-part-vinegar, two-parts-water solution, then rinse.
Store berries you're going to eat within a few days in the refrigerator without washing them.
Wash, drain and freeze berries you can't eat within a few days.