Sunday, June 28, 2015

Berry Picking Time in Tennessee!

This week begins blackberry picking season. It is one of my favorite foraging times of year. Blackberries are prolific in my area. They are actually, in my opinion, the kick-off of fruit season.  Mulberries, which were the first to ripen, were really just a teaser. Sometimes I feel like the friend of Forrest Gump...blackberry jelly, blackberry applesauce, blackberry pie filling, blackberry lime syrup, blackberry ketchup, blackberry barbecue sauce.... What's really funny is that I can go into Publix and buy 6 oz of blackberries for $4 or I can go into the field next door and pick a gallon for free!

Right now my plan is for blackberry jelly. It is fortunate that crab apples are at the right stage for jelly making when blackberries are ripe! Young green crab apples are best because they have the most pectin in them.  They are tart so don't think you will love the apples raw, but they make fantastic jelly.

If you haven't scouted your nearest blackberry patch, now is the time.  Look for them at edges of fields and islands of vegetation in fields. Often you will find wild grapes growing nearby as well.  Note the location because you can go back at the end of summer to collect them!  Look for crab apples around business buildings, shopping areas, and schools (I have found them in all three locally). They are often planted because of their attractive flowers in the spring.

Starting at noon and going clockwise: Dock seeds for grinding into flour, milkweed flower buds for soup, a gallon of blackberries, perilla to dry for seasoning, three gallons of crab apples and center is wood sorrel for soup seasoning.


  1. I just love blackberries! We have them growing wild around here as well. We are at the end of the season for them however. There are drawbacks to picking: thorns, which cause scratches; possible sighting of snakes; and chiggers, which I have plenty of right now, lol! Our favorite is blackberry jelly. I've made that with store bought pectin for several years. It would be nice to find a wild crabapple tree nearby. Speaking of grapes, we have all kind of grapevines on our property, but never any grapes. What can I do to encourage them to produce? I don't know what variety they are. I planted some muscadines in the front property in hopes of helping them along. Thanks for sharing your finds! Blessings from Bama!

  2. Hi Felecia, I am not an expert on grape vines, but there are numerous reasons why they may not produce, one being that they are male vines and will never produce. Here is an excellent article giving other possibilities:

  3. I also hate the chiggers! The first time I picked blackberries I was covered in them. Now, I use the most vile bug spray I can find, usually Deep Woods Off. I've tried the herbal variety and it just does not work for me. I wish I could find a better for you spray that works.

    1. Thank you so much for the link, Dr. Mom! I have bookmarked it for future reference. It sounds like our woods are full of male grapevines, or the canopy is too thick for sunlight to penetrate through. The herbal remedies don't seem to work for me either, and since I'm allergic to most scents, I just endure the chiggers until blackberry picking season is over. I actually tolerate them pretty well at this point! Blessings from Bama!