How to pick and cook blackberries

Once blackberries hit the hedgerows, make the most of them with our guide to choosing, using and storing these black beauties...


Few things sum up British summertime better than a scramble through a blackberry bush clutching an empty tub of margarine. And, provided you're not trespassing on private property, blackberry picking is a great way of sourcing a cheap summer pud.

Crumbles and pies aside what can you do with the bountiful berry? Here are our top tips for handling all that free fruit...

Choose carefully

Like many things in life, the most successful blackberries will be ones that stand out from the crowd. They should be shiny and firm when you pick them though fruits do seem to vary in flavour from place to place. Seasoned blackberry hunters often have favourite bushes whose harvest they prefer to any neighbouring bush. As you can try before you 'buy' shop around to find what suits you, avoiding bushes by busy roads or fruit low enough to be 'watered' by passing dogs.

BlackberriesWhen to pick

Blackberries are normally at their best at the end of August to September. Legend has it any picked after the end of this month are best avoided as the devil is said to have peed on them. We're not sure this is true but by October the damp weather will have certainly soiled many crops.

Where to pick

Grown in abundance in all manner of hedgerows across the country blackberries are not restricted to rural areas but regularly spotted along canal paths and across wasteland in towns and cities alike.

How to collect

Although it's hard to resist raiding each hedgerow try not to stack loads on top of each other or they'll bruise and squash before you get them home. Use a couple containers if you want to pick lots of berries though it's always good to leave plenty for other pickers too.

How to store

Try to keep them dry when storing and they should last for two to three days. If refrigerating let them come to room temperature before eating, as they'll taste much juicier that way. Don't worry if you've picked more than you can handle, blackberries are easily frozen and can be baked straight from the freezer with no need to defrost. Freeze on a tray in a single layer so they don't all squish together or puree them first then freeze the liquid in a bag or ice cube tray.

Blackberry coulisWhat to cook

Pies and crumbles are the obvious choice but blackberries also taste delicious served with savoury meats. Blackberry sauce tastes great with venison, or serve the berries whole with pigeon and other game birds. Add blackberry coulis to ice cream , pancakes and jelly or layer with meringue for a show-stopping pud. Finally, hit the bottle by mashing blackberries lightly with sugar, before sieving into a bottle then topping up with brandy, vodka or gin.

Browse all our blackberry recipes for more inspiration and let us know your top tips on where to find them and how to cook them, below.

Comments, questions and tips

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4th Sep, 2014
When picking blackberries, or any small fruit, take a large milk jug with you, it is easier to hold on to the handle than hold a tub, the blackberries fit easily through the top. For children use a small milk jug as it will not weigh as much and it is easier for them to hold onto than a margarine tub. When emptying, have patience as the berries will only come out one at a time, or, carefully cut the top of the jug and tip the berries out.
Jam Jar Shop's picture
Jam Jar Shop
19th Aug, 2014
Wild Berry picking is a good day out with older children. Finding the best spots is fun and good exercise.
13th Aug, 2013
It is actually very important to avoid fruit close to the ground, as these may have been urinated on by foxes and can pass life-threatening leptospirosis to humans. So pick them high up, and leave the low one to the wildlife!
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