the Style of a Blackberry Picker

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Harvest season is at my house and I’ve been picking, canning, and “playing” in the kitchen.  Currently I’ve got 307 pounds of peaches waiting for me to can in my garage.  Our local business sells them for super cheap and it’s a mad rush to box them and get in line.  It’s a huge blessing for us canners who can for very practical reasons.  Besides, home canned peaches are better than ANY store bought such.  I hope to show y’all the very basic of canned peaches in a later post.  There’s so much joy in preserving your own food.  But here’s what I did last week with black berries….

Here in the Pacific North West we’ve got an over abundance of blackberries.  They grow everywhere and fast.  Quite a nuisance if they get in your yard, but out in the wild they’re such a treat to harvest.  I’ve found if hard to pick with kids, as the season is hot and the bushes are pokey.  If you’ve got great aspirations to pick enough to jam or freeze, then you’ll need a few hours.  So my kids stay home ’till they’ve got the patience to pick.  I went out this year and picked with my mom.  We had such a great time!

We find a spot near water.  If the bushes are in dry fields the berries tend to be small and too much time for too little bounty.  So go near a river or lake.  The shadier the better.  Most of the big plump berries were on the north side of the bushes, where the sun doesn’t come down so hot.

Your attire really helps in how comfortable and fast you can pick.  I wear a bandana on my head ‘cuz it’s not in my way like a hat and won’t get caught in the bushes.  I go later in the evenings, so sunglasses make it hard to spot the black berries.  Bring a big stick or find one as you go out.  It helps tremendously with your need to grab branches up high or push the branches out of the way.  I even take two if I need.  Also, long plank boards are great for getting inside a bush where the berries might be more plentiful.  Ladders can be helpful but it’s gotta really be worth it to get up high and they usually grow low enough, it’s not fun to lug around a ladder.  My personal preference is to wear no sleeves.  They get snagged on everything and I’m much more careful if it’s my own skin at risk… or I really don’t care if I’m all scratched up… that berry bunch was worth it!  Another personal preference, keeping my ladies natural.  When you’re so HOT and out in the middle of nowhere, who cares if they’re perky.  Comfort and casual is my game.  Having a good pair of jeans and a heavy duty belt are essential.  DO NOT PICK IN SHORTS!  Yes it’s hot, but not worth your legs looking like zombie bait.  The belt is helpful to loop your bucket handle on so you can have hands free picking.  Save those ice cream buckets or go buy one at a feed store.  It’s no fun to pick with one hand, especially when you’ve got the other hand holding the stick, holding very thorny branches back.  And last but MOST important, good shoes.  A nice pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes are so important.  A couple times I’ve gone out ready to pick, forgetting that I had flip flops on… BIG MISTAKE!  I didn’t get very far.  Shoes with good souls are important ‘cuz many times you have to step down the branches to get to that sweet spot.  And there are many SWEET SPOTS!

Happy picking!

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