Blackberries ripen in early August and it is about this time that you’ll find cars parked precariously at the sides of rural roads, people leaned into the brambles picking the tender berries which like to tease, just beyond safe reach. People who’ve grown up here, or who have been picking for a while, have their own dance for getting the blackberry fruit without being stuck by the blackberry thorn.
While many people pick along the road side, it is not a location I recommend. Beyond the dust and dirt kicked up by the cars, I worry about emissions from cars and any potential spraying that may have occurred. I prefer to find places along fields and paths which are cleaner — and more pleasant — for picking. I also prefer picking berries early in the season when the fruit is moist and the seeds small. Later on, as it gets drier, the berries also get drier, smaller, and the seeds thick and tough.
We picked our first batch of berries this weekend — just enough for a batch of blackberry/black current jam from Linda Ziedrich’s book, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves (Linda is from the small Oregon town of Scio), plus a few extra to make a free-form blackberry crisp.