Foraging for your own blackberries is a no brainer: they are fresh, local for many of us, and best of all - free. Blackberries grow in abundance in the wild (and in the city) if you know where to look (or you can even grow your own).
Blackberries grow wild in more neglected urban environments. Native to North America, they’re considered an invasive species of weed that stifles other plants - but on the plus side, they are delicious.
These beauties grow in brambles with sharp thorny branches so wear long sleeves, pants and a good pair of boots (we chose the Men’s Earthkeepers Original Leather 6-inch boots) when you go foraging. Also be careful to avoid other nasty species that can grow with blackberries like poison ivy and stinging nettle (our resident forager got snagged in something like this - so the struggle is real).
Blackberries start to ripen in August through to September. They produce small white flowers in spring and then berries that start green, turn red, and then finally black. When they pull easily off the branch is when they are perfectly sweet and ripe (less ripe berries will be sour and tart).
- Be smart about foraging. Don’t pick berries where chemicals or pesticides may have been sprayed, or where the ground or water may be contaminated.
- Go looking for urban blackberries in less cultivated areas of parks and ravines, or along train tracks and fences where weeds grow in abundance - they should be easy to spot if you are keeping an eye out for them.
- Make sure you know what you are picking - examine the leaves and berries and compare with a foraging guide.
- Finally, make sure you wash them well before eating to remove any dirt and insects.
Eat or cook the berries right away (you can always go back for more throughout the season as they ripen) or freeze for use throughout the year. Blackberries are excellent in desserts, jams and syrups (or just throw them into your smoothies). We recommend this simple, but delectable recipe for crumbly scones below.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk (or cream or greek yogurt for a richer scone)
1/4 cup blackberries (or to taste)
1/3 cup cold butter
Mix dry ingredients. Slice in butter with a pastry cutter (or two knives) and knead gently with hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in milk and blackberries. Stir until the batter comes together, then roll out on a floured surface (add more flour if the dough is too wet or more milk if it’s too dry).
Knead only five times (over-kneading will ruin the flaky texture). Press down to 1 inch thickness and cut out round scones. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown. Makes 6 (try to share) and serve with butter and jam.
Eat these simple blackberry scones with a clear conscience (especially if you biked or walked to pick them, leaving zero carbon footprint).
If you don’t have blackberries in your area, keep an eye out for wild blueberries or raspberries as an alternative*. Grab a pair of boots and a foraging guide - you’re bound to find something.
*Don’t pick or consume a berry or fruit if you aren’t sure about what it is. It’s best to consult a foraging guide or an expert.