Planning a Blackberry Bush Attack

Blackberry Shortcake. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Ambushing the shrubbery at the local high school takes guts—and a willingness to drive onto school property in broad daylight and operate under a “pick-the-blackberries-now-ask-questions-later” policy. On a Saturday at 3 p.m., Nate, Alex, and I decided that we had what it took to carry out an attack: an appetite for blackberry shortcakes and two plastic containers. It turns out we probably also needed paper towels or those pre-moistened “towelettes,” to clean off the fingers we used to pick the blackberries, but driving home with only one hand on the wheel works well too, as long as you also remember to only open the newly painted front door with the hand that was not picking blackberries.

“Should we be doing this? Will anyone from school see me?” Alex asked, while wearing sky blue shorts, paired with a bright red Ohio State Buckeyes t-shirt.

Though there weren’t any printed signs that said we couldn’t pick the blackberries, I did wonder about the overarching lesson we were teaching our teenage son, but the only thing of substance I could tell him was to maybe not wear such loud color combinations when “sneaking” onto school property that is actually open to the public on the weekends during daylight hours. (Some people who were a lot older looking than high school students were pulling into the parking lot to use the tennis courts. We all just cautiously eyed one another, silently asking each other with just one look, “Are we supposed to be doing this? I won’t tell if you won’t.”)

Despite treacherously sharp thorns and intermittent outbursts of “Ouch! Damn it,” we managed to collect about 3 ½ to 4 cups of blackberries that were just on the brink of over-ripeness. According to Nate, we should have invaded the school property a couple of weeks earlier, but we did end up with enough berries to make some delicious shortcakes.

At home, Nate and Alex promised to wash the berries while I began the shortcake recipe, which I found online through a Betty Crocker site for Bisquick Heart Smart Strawberry Shortcakes. Instead of strawberries, I used blackberries and I didn’t coat them in a half cup of sugar beforehand, as the strawberry shortcake recipe indicated. The blackberries were so ripe I figured they would have turned to syrup if I had added the extra sugar. The entire recipe for the shortcakes can be found here: Heart Smart Strawberry Shortcakes Recipe—

The recipe was so easy to follow that I was done before Alex and Nate finished washing the blackberries. In fact, I was able to change out of my clothes, wash my face, take the shortcakes out of the oven, and find Nate and Alex STILL fussing with the blackberries. They were being extremely careful. Too careful. Then, as I listened to their conversation, I noticed some horrifying snippets of information they let slip out. Words like “worm” and “Is it a maggot?” and oh, no, it’s just “fruit fly larvae” surfaced. Nate even pulled out his laptop and began to do some investigating before blurting out, “Yeah, all the sites confirm that if you eat it, nothing happens. It’s totally harmless. If we wanted to be super careful, we’d soak these things in salt water.”

“Please, don’t!” I said. “Watch!”

I took a handful of blackberries that had only been rinsed at that point and ate them. I don’t know if I ate fruit fly larvae or not, but I suspect that fruit fly larvae don’t taste like chicken. They taste like blackberries. Sweet, delicious “trespassing” worthy blackberries.

Your Turn: Do you have blackberry or raspberry bushes on your property or in your community? What are your memories of picking blackberries/raspberries during late summer?







38 thoughts on “Planning a Blackberry Bush Attack

  1. I have blackberry bushes in the backyard. Our harvest season is the end of May, beginning of June. Wicked thorns anytime of year. I fell in the bushes one year. Never repeated it. Hold your balance for all you’re worth. Unfortunately, the last three years, I’ve lost the crop in the middle of May. We’d have lovely weather. In the middle of May, we’d hit a few days of 100 degrees. The berries would ripen in color but taste green. It would return to normal, but it was too late. Then it would hit 100 degrees a couple days, again, and the berries would be dried like raisins but without the time necessary to produce their natural sugar. Nasty. Sad.

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  2. One of my earliest memories is of picking blackberries – at least that’s what I thought they were, turns out I had stolen some boysenberries out of a neighbours garden as a gift for my mum! We always used to go blackberry picking to some local woods as a birthday treat for my just elder sister whose birthday falls at the start of September. The whole family armed with little buckets to pick enough for jam (and probably wine knowing my parents!)

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    1. The shortcake was sooo good! Leave it to Nate and Alex to sort through blackberries to find out what’s wrong with them (LOL)–they’re watching out for me though because I would just eat them without looking.

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  3. Thanks for following OMBH! I hope you find a smile or three when you visit!
    Now that I have your attention… how about having a look at my first collection of short stories… perfect to fill in the few leisure hours at your disposal!
    Great, thanks!!

    PS – Last year I made a blackberry/ red wine concoction… it wasn’t as good as the tin said it was supposed to be but it worked quite well as a marinade for the Christmas lamb/ mutton! 🙂

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      1. Sorry… I should’ve replied sooner… life getting in the way again! OK, here’s two recipes… the wine one is the basis of the fluid I used,
        As mentioned, I wan’t mad about the final result… maybe the sugar is not needed?
        OK… so, I had blackberries in the freezer, specifically to use at Christmas for the mutton/ lamb! (Our butcher was able to source really great quality mutton! Many will say mutton is tough… we devoured the end result!!) Here’s the basis of the rub – I combined the two… and added my own bits and pieces… can’t remember exactly what I did…
        OK… obviously we have to use our good discretion but ultimately the wine and blackberry combination works well! Here’s a photo of the raw product… when my family saw this, before I managed to get the foil on, they all pulled up their noses…

        However… here’s the meat still on the braai (South African for BBQ )

        OK… there you have it! FUN, it was… promise!
        We have a son, now living in New Your, he’s my greatest food critic… he more than approved… he reckoned it was the best “sheep” he ever had!! And… that after many told him mutton is not as good as lamb! They will be getting here on the 28th of December… he has already placed his meat order… 😉

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  4. Looks delicious. And as far as any bugs — we’re already eating stuff like that in processed food. In fact, the FDA has rules for how much mold, rot, parasites, bugs, and other contamination it will allow in our food because it’s going to get into it one way or another.

    Chew on that for a bit. Bleah.

    Liked by 1 person

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