In this article I am going to give you the rundown on picking wild blackberries here in Southern Chile. They grow in just about ever unmaintained piece of cleared land; you do not have to look hard to find them, they are everywhere. So if your are here form about the end of February till the end of March, and looking to make some jam, or add some fresh seasonal fruit to your breakfast or just a great snack, here is what you need to know:
If you are familiar with the locations for blackberries in the USA you will know that there are often chiggers in these locations and bushes, not here. Also, note that cultivated blackberries are lacking the thorniness of these wild bushes. WARNING: DO NOT reach into a blackberry bush past about your wrist, ITS A TRAP. The thorns on these bushes are much like the teeth on a shark, they are folded back. So your hand and arm go in with no resistance but, when you try to pull them out, the thorns bite into your clothing and flesh. Guess how I know?
When to pick: If the summer has been cool and wet, the berries will not be mature till about the end of March. If the summer is hot and dry, the berries will be ready more around the end of February till early March. Also, it is better to pick in the morning. First, it is not as hot as it will be by midday. Second, the best fruit grows in the morning shade.
Where to pick: It is best to get off the paved and dirt roadsides. You don’t have to go more than a few meters but the berries will not have had road grim and dirt coating them. You can wash the berries, but you don’t know what has socked into the berries while they were maturing. Go into a field and look for clean berries.
What to wear: old long sleeve shirt and long pants (the thorns will pick at your clothes, were something you don mind being picked). Also, close toes sturdy shoes and a hat with a large brim that goes all the way around. I would also suggest sun lotion or a scarf for your neck.
How to pick: Carefully! Ok, there is more. Basically you are looking for fruit that is mature. That means it is black in color with no green or red on it. Some fruit is black but not yet mature ( this fruit is not nearly as soft as the mature ones). When you grasp the fruit lightly and tug, the fruit should come loose fairly easily. You should hold your collection container under where you are picking. The best fruit will fall off simply from the vibration of picking nearby. Also, sometime the fruit you are picking will fall out of your hand. I suggest tasting the fruit you are select every so often to make sure you are not picking some that are still bitter. However, the task will go quicker if you eat less and pick more; to turn a Kenny Rogers verse there’ll be time enough for eatin’ when the pickin’s done.