In late summer, you’ll find blackberries in abundance all over the UK, including dense woods, hedgerows, railway embankments, wastelands, and gardens.
Blackberries are a perfect introduction to the novice forager because they’re super easy to identify and relatively easy to pick. Looking for blackberries in the hedge is an extremely popular weekend activity for families in the UK.
Today, I will guide you through where and how to forage blackberries with some key details, features, and recipe suggestions.
Common names: Bramble, blackberry, wild blackberry, European blackberry
Scientific name: Rubus fruticosus
Season: August – October
Frequency: Very common
Culinary value: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ 5/5
Leaves: Each leaf is divided into three or five serrated, short-stalked, oval leaves. Leaves are dark green on top and pale underneath.
Flowers: A small white or pink, five-petalled flower appearing in the cluster from June to August.
Fruit: The fruit is 1–2cm in length and made up of multiple drupes. The berries turn from white to red to deep purple, and then finally to black when the berries are ripe.
Stem: The stem is covered in small prickly thorns.
Habitat: Woodlands, hedgerows, railway embankments, wastelands and gardens, pretty much everywhere in the UK.
Possible confusion: Wild blackberries have no poisonous lookalikes in the UK, but you may confuse them with other edible berries like wild raspberries before they ripen.
Taste: Sweet and fruity, they taste exactly the same as the ones you get from supermarket.
How to pick
The following tips will help you pick wild blackberries easily.
Protection: Wild blackberries are thorny and can be found growing among poison ivy, nettles, insects, and snakes. I’d advise wearing closed shoes, long sleeves, and full length pants when picking to protect you from bites, scratches, and stings. You may also want to wear gloves too.
Pick ripe berries: The best part about wild blackberries is that once they’re picked, they don’t continue to ripen, but it does mean that you want to make sure you’re picking ripe berries. You can identify them by their large, plump bodies, deep colouring, and most importantly, they are easily plucked from the stem. If you need to tug to get the berry off it means that it isn’t ready to be picked yet.
Take a container: This one’s a little obvious, if you want to keep the blackberries in good shape, bring a shallow container box or tray with you that you can fill up and seal without squashing the fruit.
A delicious homemade jam made from freshly picked wild blackberries, sugar and lemon juice – perfect with a slice of sourdough bread or summer yogurt parfait. No jam sugar (pectin) is required.
This blackberry cordial is marvellous, and its deep flavour and richness are incomparable. Once you’ve tried it, you won’t want to go back to the artificial cordial you get from a supermarket. You can use it in hot or cold drinks, pour on hot porridge, mix with vodka or sparkling wine – the best way to preserve the flavour of summer all year round.
Before you go out and pick your own wild food, I also recommend you read my article all about the 7 rules for foraging. Please always remember to pick responsibly and leave the place as you found it.
Foraging is great fun but it requires a lot of practice and research. Never rely on one source when identifying wild plants and mushrooms and don’t consume anything unless you are 100% sure of its identity and edibility. K33kitchen.com is a recipe blog and I am not a mycologist nor a plant expert; if you spot any misinformation on my site, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me – your help is always appreciated. K33kitchen.com does not take legal responsibility or liability for any loss and damage (including damage to property and/or injury to person) for the use of the information on this site.