Everything You Need to Know About Blackberry Picking

If you live in the PNW, don’t buy blackberries in August/September…pick them for free!

I had never seen wild blackberries, until I moved to Washington. There’s three types of blackberries in Washington: the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), the cutleaf blackberry (Rubus laciniatus) , and the Pacific blackberry (Rubus ursinus), which are all edible.

I didn’t even know about them the first year, but after a friend pointed out the bushes, I realized they are literally everywhere. Blackberries (Himalayan and cutleaf) are invasive species and actually considered a pest in many parts of the US. You can find them next to roads, alongside rivers and streams, by schools and building, while hiking, and we love eating them as a snack on walks.

Blackberry Picking

  • Bring gloves. Those thorns can be nasty. I don’t use the gloves for picking the berries itself, but they are helpful to pull branches closer to you.
  • Blackberries are ripe when the bush releases them easily as you gently pull on them. The ideal blackberries should be fully black, large, and firm. If you have to pull hard, it’s not ready. If they fall off on their own or squish in your hands, they’re overripe (they won’t keep well and spoil faster).
  • Use a container to hold the berries. We made the mistake of putting them in a ziploc bag, which leaked in my backpack, and became a giant mess. Put them in tupperware, a basket, or a gallon jug cut in half.
  • Don’t pick blackberries near the ground because dogs or other animals can pee on them
  • Carry a foldable step stool (we keep ours under the stroller), so you can reach more blackberries.
  • Wear dark clothes to avoid stains. If you get berry stains on your clothes, wash with acids such as lemon juice and vinegar.

Blackberry – Prep and Storage

  • Blackberries commonly have worms (sorry but this applies to all berries, even the ones in the groceries like Trader Joes and Costco, even if you don’t see them). They are the larvae of fruit flies and tend to be in overripe berries. While off putting, they’re safe to eat (extra protein)
  • To get rid of any eggs or larvae
    • Soak berries in ice water
    • Wash berries in water + salt (1 cup of water to one teaspoon of salt) or + apple cider vinegar (1 cup water to 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
    • Chill in the fridge
    • Freeze the berries
  • Eat or freeze your berries within 24-48 hours. I wash them only when I’m about to eat or freeze them, otherwise they’ll spoil quicker.
  • Jamming or baking them is also a great way to use up blackberries quickly


Here’s two easy recipes. For more blackberry recipes or the original posts, you can check out my foodblog Obsessive Cooking Disorder

Wild Blackberry Jam (No Pectin)

4 cups blackberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice 

Add blackberries, sugar and lemon juice to a saucepan (make sure there is extra space when the blackberries foam and bubble).

Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer the jam until it reaches gel stage, stirring to keep the bubbles down. In this low sugar batch, it should take 20-30 minutes for a low sugar jam. (adding more sugar will decrease the time needed to gel).

More tips and background information on blackberry jamming on my foodblog.

Easy Blackberry Galette

3 cups fresh blackberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 orange, zested
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 frozen pie crust
1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, gentle toss the blackberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and spices to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to let the juices out.

Roll pie dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Place the berry filling (exclude the juices which have run out so your galette isn’t too runny) in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Gently fold the dough loosly onto the filling to form the galette. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar.

Bake the galette until the crust is golden brown and the juice from the berries is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. The juice may ooze from the edges of the pie crust. Enjoy warm (I recommend garnishing with mint and serving with ice cream).

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