Picking Blackberries for Making Jam
If you are planning some Blackberry Jam Making, there are some things to consider before going out and picking blackberries. Don’t listen to your parents when they tell you how much fun they had picking blackberries when they were kids. Yes, they probably have fond memories, but it’s like childbirth. If you remember how painful it is, you would never do it again. Every year I go out, the first day is the most painful, as my skin has forgotten what it is like. The 2nd day, my skin is prepared, and so it does not feel as bad. If you decide to proceed these 4 Learnings about Blackberry Picking will prove are invaluable.
1. Dress to Protect
Gumboots These protect your feet and lower legs from not only thorns, but also from possible snakes.
Heavy Duty Pants Denim etc. but ones that you don’t mind the occasional thread pull.
A Long Sleeved Shirt I know all this sounds a little hot for February, but I cannot say often enough, there are thorns. I have a “western” shirt, with the sleeves a little long. I roll up the cuffs and this gives a little extra protection for my wrists.
Garden Gloves These should fit you really well and if possible have elastic at the wrist. I have really small hands so I was very difficult to fit with garden gloves that did not keep snagging in the thorns. I never wore gloves until recently and this meant that my hands look a bit of a mess each year. I have now found the perfect glove that allows me to still manoeuvre within the bush. It closely fits my fingers and hand, with elastic on the back of the wrist area. They are sturdy, but not too thick, and they do absorb my sweat.
I generally say no to a hat or sunglasses as the former can get caught in the bushes and the latter stops you from seeing which berries are ripe. I try and stay in the shade of a tree or in the shade of the bush itself. This can work if your blackberry bush is taller than you.
2. Equipment for Picking Blackberries
Small bucket This is to hold while you are picking. If you are carrying a large bucket, it will get too heavy.
Large Bucket This is for transferring the berries to when your small bucket gets full.
If you take your dogs with you when picking, find a spot out of their reach for the large bucket. It does not take long for them to realise what a yummy treat is contained in the bucket! My dog started out eating the berries delicately straight from the bush, then worked out it was a lot easier just to eat the berries I had already picked. The first time I caught him with his head in the bucket I quickly put the bucket on the back of the ute.
Flat tray ute If you go out in a flat tray utility vehicle (ute), and the terrain allows, you can back the flat tray into the tall blackberry bushes, because the best berries are always just out of reach, no matter how tall you are, or the ute is. Some people have used ladders to traverse the bushes, and this will work where the bushes are in a gully type situation. Corrugated iron sheets can work as well in this situation.
Secateurs These are for cutting away the thorny canes that are in your way of reaching those best berries that are just out of reach.
Water, and lots of it I ½ fill the bottle, then freeze the water overnight. In the morning, top up the bottle with water and this gives you water immediately and keeps it cold for a lot longer.
3. Other Tips for Blackberry Picking
If you are going out for a few hours, consider getting going before the sunrise, so that you do your picking in the cool of the morning. Also take toilet paper. I presume I do not have to say, “take your phone”, for emergencies and of course, snacks. If you are going on your own, let someone know where you are going. If you are going with someone else, you will find that you could lose sight of the other person at some point. Just do the Aussie thing and give a cooee to make sure they are okay.
4. Unexpected Australian Wild-Life
One thing that I really enjoy while picking, is the peace and quiet of the bush, as well as the bird sounds around me. I see wallabies every time I go out, but I have also seen echidnas, black Cockatoos, wild pigs, oh, and the occasional snake.
Once you have your Blackberries it is time to make Blackberry Jam using your favourite recipe. Or you could come along to Wendy’s Market Stall and enjoy the benefits of Wendy’s persistence and jam making experience. Feeling really lazy? Order online