Blackberries red

Blackberry Pickin’

In The Blog by Dr James Wellborn

My grandmother LOVED blackberries.  Every summer she would have us out with our buckets in the blackberry patch under a blazing Louisiana sun picking juicy berries until we were worn out.  Then there was the baking of the blackberry cobbler!  If you are looking for something to do as a family that is unique and tasty, blackberry pickin’ can be just the thing.  They ripen from the end of June through early July.

To get started, you will need to find a berry patch.  It’s gonna be in scrub areas in full sun.  You can often find them on the edges of Greenways that are being set aside in urban areas.  And, there may even be a pick-your-own farm in your area.  It doesn’t take much in terms of equipment.  You’ll need a small to medium sized picking bucket with a handle.  (While a large picking bucket is more efficient, there is nothing more frustrating than catching the bucket on a vine and watching the berries disappear into the berry patch.  There is considerably less cussin and holloring if you only lose a small amount.)  You will also need multiple medium size buckets to keep the picked berries.  You can’t pile too many berries in a single container or they will get crushed.  Long sleeved shirts and long pants, denim or other thick fabric, is the traditional uniform.  Otherwise the thorns will scratch you all up!  Be sure to bring something to drink.  It is hot, sweaty work.  Something my grandmother didn’t tell us (or, possibly didn’t care about) is that snakes like to hang out in blackberry patches.  So carry a poking stick to shake things up if you are going to wade through the patch rather than pick from the edge.  And, of course, there may be ticks.  But nothing worth having comes easy, right?  Finally, bring some tweezers (or sharp nosed pliers), antiseptic and adhesive bandages to deal with any battle scars.

Once you gather the berries there are many ways to enjoy them.  Everyone will have already discovered the eat-as-you-go technique of berry picking.  When you get home, pull out your best blackberry cobbler recipe (or head for the internet to find a good one).  If you are ambitious, blackberries make delicious jams and jellies.  You can also press them to make a delicious syrup for ice cream or pancakes and waffles.  The fresh, whole berries won’t keep for very long so you will probably want to freeze any leftovers for a mid Winter blackberry cobbler.

Keep an eye out for likely places berries will be ripening and take the family for an adventure that ends in juicy deliciousness.