When to pick blackberries

Lorraine: Davina makes a blackberry and apple crumble

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What’s more British than this dark and juicy berry? We love to scramble through brambles to pick blackberries. But how do you know when a blackberry is ripe, and when are blackberries ready to pick in the UK?

When is blackberry season in the UK?

We are currently in the middle of blackberry season in the UK, so it’s time to find a hedgerow and get picking! This is the perfect time to pick blackberries in the UK.

Blackberries tend to reach their prime between August and September.

The legend goes that any time after September 29, the devil will have spat (or, according to some versions, relieved himself) over the crop and they shouldn’t be eaten. But as October brings with it wetter weather, many crops of blackberries begin to spoil after September.

How can you tell if a blackberry is ripe?

You can spot a ripe blackberry by its deep black colour – when you touch it it should be plump and feel juicy. Over-ripe berries are soft and leaky, while younger berries are harder.

If a blackberry is still a pink, red or purple colour, it’s not ripe yet. The matte black blackberries are the sweetest fruits.

When you go to pick a blackberry, if it is ripe it will come away from the plant with only a slight tug.

Where can I pick blackberries?

In the UK you are welcome to pick blackberries that grow in public places. A hardy plant, blackberries are very common all over the UK.

You should avoid picking blackberries that grow alongside busy roads, or those close to the ground where passing dogs might ‘water’ them.

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Blackberry picking is a great family activity, especially for younger ones. Why not turn it into a day out, and teach the kids about foraging blackberries, and how to scramble through bramble?

Some blackberry hotspots for a day out in the UK include:

  • Leigh Woods, Bristol
  • New Forest, Hampshire
  • Wimbledon Common, London
  • Limewoods, Lincolnshire
  • Kielder Forest, Northumberland

But, blackberries are common all over Britain. You may even have a crop in your own back garden!

How to store blackberries

If you go out blackberry picking, try to resist stacking your containers too high.

Cramming containers full of berries leads to them becoming squashed and bruised.

Instead take a few containers – empty takeaway boxes or margarine tubs are perfect – and don’t overfill them. Make sure you leave some berries for the other pickers!

You can refrigerate blackberries when you get home, but let them come to room temperature before you eat them, otherwise they won’t be very sweet.

If you’ve picked more than you can eat, don’t worry. Blackberries freeze very well, so they can be enjoyed from the freezer all year round.

Blackberry recipes

Blackberries are a versatile fruit that can be used in lots of different recipes, or are delicious on their own.

Blackberries make beautiful crumbles and pies, or can be added to shortbread.

You can make a bramble liqueur by adding blackberries and sugar to gin, and leaving to infuse over a few weeks.

Blackberries also make an amazing addition to savoury dishes. Try a blackberry reduction with venison or duck. You can even add blackberries to a very autumnal beetroot and goats cheese salad.

What are your favourite ways to eat blackberries? Let us know in the comments.

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