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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Picking Blackberries 101

It is summer! How do I know it is summer? It is hot, hot, hot and the blackberries are ripe!

I love blackberries. I picked blackberries with Mom, Aunt Gracie, my cousin Rodney and Grandma when I was a kid. Back then we picked blackberries on Grandma's land. We traveled up an old rutted out coal bank road. We picked berries in the ditches, on the hillsides, near the pond and anywhere else we found them. Berries had the habit of growing in the hardest to get to places. We carried coffee cans and water buckets to put our berries in. We put on our rubber boots, long pants and long sleeved shirts. They protected us from the briers and snakes!

And Grandma used her hanky a lot to wipe the sweat off of her face.

That was then and this is now.

Now I pick blackberries in my yard. I still wear my long pants and long sleeved shirt, even when it is 95 degrees outside. And sometimes I wish I had one of Grandma's hankies, too.

To be a blackberry picker you have to be in pretty good shape. You can not have bad knees, bad hips or a bad back. You have to be able to stoop, stretch and crawl.

You have to be able to get down on you knees to find the berries hiding near the ground.

You have to be able to crawl under the vines to get to the berries underneath.

You shouldn't be afraid of critters such as, worms, spiders, tics and snakes. If so, then stay in the house where it is cool. I think this little inch worm is kinda cute, though.

You have to have good eyes to find the hidden berries. They like to hide behind leaves.

You need to put a little table in the shade to set your tray of berries on. If you sit your berries on the ground, they will attract ants. And when you bring them inside and place them on your table, the ants will crawl out and start walking around.

It is a hot and tiresome job. But, the rewards are very delicious!

And, I almost forgot. No matter how ripe that berry looks, if it doesn't want to come off - don't pick it! No matter how tempted you are. I have found that the berry knows best. It knows when it is ready to be picked. My mother in law used to tell me that you could tell by how the berry felt if it was ready to be picked or not. I thought she was crazy, but she was right. I now also have the touch. But, I must confess, I sometimes pick when I shouldn't and I am usually sorry. And, that berry ends up tossed on the ground after I get a closer look at it.

I bet by now you've guessed what I did today. Have you picked any berries lately?
Go here and check out a couple of my blackberry recipes.


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  2. Janet,
    You took me back to my childhood. My dad must have picked blackberries as a boy. It was all he talked about. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Those look so delicious!!! I love your header pic, berry brambles are just gorgeous! Have a wonderful day!

  4. Oh, man does this bring back memories of my grandma taking us out blackberry picking in Ohio! To this day I always check for the smell of cucumbers any time I'm near the patch growing in the tree line behind our house. Grandma said that meant snakes were nearby.

  5. That get up that we wear helps against the chiggers and the nettle weed as well. Thanks for the memories!!

  6. The berries look really plump and juicy! This made me think of picking berries and getting into a patch of chiggers. Oh! one of the worst of little critters! Mama had to can her berries since we had no electricity and I still like the flavor or cooked berries. Your family sure will have good things to eat this winter.

  7. I haven't been out picking yet this year, so thanks for the trip to the patch:). Looks like you got a great crop this year!!

  8. I would say thanks for the memories but one memory I have is of eating a huge basket of blackberries as a child and making myself very very sick.

    These days, I'm in awe of my dog who picks her own. I love that. :)

  9. The only berries I've ever picked were strawberries. I don't like spiders or snakes or ticks. My mother-in-law made delicious blackberry cobbler.

  10. Hi Janet! I really loved your post today, it was so wonderful! I have never had the opportunity to pick blackberries. I found your instructions so interesting! I hope that I will have a chance to do it one day. I grew up in the big city and there was not a berry bush to be seen. Then when we moved here to Georgia, the only blackberries I have come across are the tiny, sour wild variety that grow around the edge of our forest. I did pick one once, but it was so bitter, I thought, better to leave them for all deer and little woodland creatures. :)

    You have made me long so much for the berries, I think tomorrow I'll stop by the store and make a big bubbly blackberry cobbler! Have a restful evening. Delisa :)

  11. Hi Janet, I absolutely loved this post! I loved the walk with you down memory lane and the walk to your backyard now. I love to pick blackberries, too. I only have the wild kind, but your backyard blackberries sure are tantalizing and I know they add up a lot faster than the tiny ground berries I pick. Yes, we do have to be brave--and I have to keep an eye out for bear here, too! I was wondering if you might share your favorite blackberry recipe?

  12. Janet -- I have not picked any blackberries in KY where I live now but I picked lots of them where I once lived -- Oregon. In Oregon the blackberries stand tall and present large delicious berries to the passerby. No crawling etc. as you described. Huge stands grow in the Willamette Valley area -- public parks produce as many as you can pick by just standing in place near the bushes. It is truly a blackberry paradise. Your berries look so delicious!

  13. Hi Janet,
    Yum. I picked some blackberries at our place in the country last month. They were so good. My favorite part is finding a big batch of them tucked under a leaf. My least favorite part is the stickers. But it's all good.

  14. Those berries look delicious!
    I used to pick blackberries for my Grandmother on her farm. The was a big patch up the dirt road past the barn.
    I don't think there is nothing as good as a fresh picked ripe blackberry.

  15. YUM-Our blackberries didn't do so well this year. I think it got too hot to fast.


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