Blackberries are in abundance again this year and are a perfect healthy ingredient for baking. Of course, they can be eaten raw as a snack, or served as a healthy accompaniment to pancakes or porridge for breakfast.
In this post, I will show you quick and easy ways to prepare your blackberries ready for eating, cooking, and freezing and I will share some of my favourite blackberry recipes with you.
In short, it is very easy to prepare blackberries. They need to be soaked overnight in salted water. Once rinsed and drained, they can then be eaten fresh, cooked, or frozen for later use.
Read on for more in depth info and read my tips for protecting your skin when picking, getting rid of bugs, and the best way to freeze blackberries to prevent clumping. Happy foraging!
When To pick blackberries in the UK
Blackberry picking, chestnut collecting, and visiting pick-your-own farms are all happy memories from my childhood. They were popular pastimes for families in the 1970s. Not only was it a nice bit of quality time together, but it was fun and money saving too.
As zero waste and cooking from scratch are becoming more popular again, so has foraging for wild blackberries
Blackberries are generally ready to be picked late summer or early autumn, but this year they seem to be ready exceptionally early in places. We have already foraged a couple of bag fulls of lovely firm blackberries that were perfect for picking, whereas others we saw were very small and green.
The perfect time to pick blackberries should be when they are large and black, but still hard.
Where to pick blackberries in the UK
Wild blackberries can be found in woodland, country lanes, and roadsides all over the UK. It is perfectly legal to pick them for yourself providing they are not on someone’s private property. If in doubt please ask. You may also find them to buy at pick-your-own farms.
I prefer to pick the ones that are about 2 feet off the ground so I know that dogs have not wee’d on them. I tend to pick in woodlands away from main roads to avoid excess pollution too.
It might be wise to wear a thin pair of gloves, shoes with closed in toes, and old long sleeved/legged clothes to avoid being prickled or stained.
Remember to take suitable containers to put your pickings in – an ice cream tub is perfect.
How to prepare and wash wild blackberries
Blackberries must always be washed before eating, cooking, or freezing as they may well contain bugs, as in the wriggly sort!
- Place your foraged blackberries into a large shallow dish and cover with cold water.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the top and leave to soak overnight to kill off any bugs.
- You will find that any tiny flies, or bits of stalk, will have risen to the top and are then easy to pick off.
- Drain the blackberries through a colander and shake off any excess water.
- Spread your blackberries out on lined baking trays. Here you will see if there are any creatures lurking about. You will often get little white maggots on the edge of the blackberry. These are now dead and easy to wipe away with a piece of paper towel. It may sound disgusting, but they come from fruit flies rather than bluebottles, and this is why you need to soak blackberries in salted water overnight.
- Your wild blackberries are now ready to eat fresh or freeze.
How to freeze blackberries
You will already have your blackberries on lined baking trays from the end of the cleaning process. As well as making that process easier, it will also make freezing blackberries easier too.
- Pop your blackberries on the trays in the freezer for at least 12 hours.
- Take them out and decant into a large bag or storage tubs, then return to the freezer.
This method will freeze each blackberry individually and stop them from sticking together in a clump. You can then store until needed and take out the amount you want rather than the whole batch.
I have found that frozen blackberries can be used from the freezer for many months. I am just finishing off last year’s batch and they are still full of flavour.
What can I use blackberries for?
Blackberries are very healthy and can be eaten raw, made into jam, wine and smoothies, and my favourite, cakes, and desserts. They can be defrosted in the fridge or used straight from frozen in some cases.
Here are some of my favourite recipes with blackberries:
Do you forage for blackberries or other wild fruits and herbs?
Do you have any favourite blackberry recipes?