Does it seem that the Blackberry picking season is getting earlier and earlier each year? It was one of my favourite late summer, early autumn outdoor activities to do as a child. But after a walk last night were we were able to pick some it seems that the season has shifted. My kids have been picking them since they were tots and I wanted to put together some top tips for you on picking the blackberries with toddlers and preschoolers. So here you go.
Although you can get cultivated varieties of blackberries for your own garden, and buy punnets of them in the store, without a doubt the best blackberries are wild and ones that you pick yourself.
Blackberry bushes are brambles - they are covered in thorns. But the occasional scratch, if you decide to wear short sleeves, is well worth it because they do taste the best!
Going Blackberry Picking with Kids
When the first blackberry is seen as we walk through the fields near our house the kids get excited (not sure why as they don't even really like blackberries unless they are in muffins).
I guess it's because the few that they do manage to pick taste amazing and possibly the best bit, it's all a little bit messy!
When the blackberries form they are green, then turn to red and as they ripen go-to black. That is the time to pick. Red blackberries may give you a stomach ache.
Looking for a really simple recipe to use them with - add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and then top with our favourite Crumble Mix recipe.
Tip #1 ~ Wear Old Clothes
Which brings us to our first tip for you and for the kids. Wear old clothes. Shall I say that a little louder WEAR OLD CLOTHES!
I remember coming back as a child purple from the berries. They had squished and squashed all over me and I'd "cleaned" my hands down my jeans a number of times.
My kids were the same - so it was old clothes that they wore for messy play or out in the garden.
TIP #2 ~ Long Sleeves If You Can
Blackberry bushes are full of thorns. To avoid the scratches as long as it's not too hot we cover up our arms with long sleeves and trousers.
Tip #3 ~ Pick Above Knee Height
So probably above shoulder height for your toddlers but you really want to avoid the lower level blackberries.
They could be the ideal location for a dog's toilet!
Tip #4 ~ Wash before you Eat
Because of the reason for Tip #3 we recommend washing before you eat.
I actually used to take a bottle of water to give the blackberries that the kids were picking and eating a quick wash before they popped them in the mouths.
Tip #5 ~ Bring Containers
We've picked blackberries on the fly and carried them home in our hands. My daughter came home from summer camp with them in the pocket of her backpack. Neither of which are advisable.
A bag doesn't work very well either. We've found the best are the punnets and boxes that strawberries and raspberries come in from the Pick Your Own or the store.
We pack a few and fill them up. Put the lid on and into our backpack to take home.
Bonus Tip ~ What to do with Squashed and OverRipe Berries
If you have even more then why not use them to create your own natural blackberry dyed playdough.
Freezing Blackberries for future use
If your kids and family are anything like ours then your bound to get hundreds of blackberries. More than you could bake with at once so we freeze ours.
It's really easy to do just follow the steps below. That way, as I did as a child you can have delicious blackberry treats and food throughout the autumn months.
How to Freeze Blackberries after Picking Them
- In a colander rinse the blackberries under a gentle flow of cold water.
- Shake gently to remove excess water.
- Separate out leaves, stems and anything else that may be in with your foraged blackberries.
- Don't forget to remove under or overripe berries.
- On a baking sheet lay the berries out with space in between.
- Place the sheet in the freezer - this will ensure that berries aren't frozen in clumps.
- After 24hrs remove from the freezer and place into a freezable container and keep for up to 6 months.