Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Urban berry-picking

Not exactly the type of berry patch I'm used to.

The biggest berries are always just out of reach!
Even though I'm only home for a few days and even though I have tons of unpacking, laundry/cleaning, and repacking to do, it has been KILLING me that there are blackberries everywhere and I'm not picking them! So I skipped out on organizing for my Malaysia trip for a little while and went urban foraging. This consisted of walking around my neighborhood with a ziplock bag looking for blackberry bushes hanging over the road. I found three pretty good patches and picked about a quart and a half. Of course, the big plump berries were always just out of reach. It's always tempting to think "I can just step in there with one leg and pull that branch down..." but the thorns on these bushes are no joke (nor are the giant brown spiders). These are Himalayan blackberries, introduced to North American in the 19th century and different from the Common blackberry many people are familiar with on the East coast. They have nasty thorns. Really nasty; I came home with a little blood on my arm after getting a little too greedy. They'll also rip holes in your clothing if you get snagged. The key is to find a place where the bushes are hanging over the road and just pick right on the edge. It's a hard rule to follow when the best berries are just out of reach though.

This is a totally different type of berry picking than I'm used to in Kodiak of course. This is a type of berry picking where you have to be worried about being hit by cars and trespassing in someone's yard, rather than the kind where you have to worry about over-sized bears and pushki. And since I never saw blackberries as a kid (they don't grow in Alaska), they are still a little unreal to me. Everytime I see a really nice juicy bunch of blackberries, all I can think of is a book called "Jamberry" that I had as a kid. My parents read it to me so many times that I can still hear parts of it in my head. They probably can too.


  1. I've been finding it amazing how few berries you need to make a couple small jars of jelly or jam. And it does not take very long to do the processing either. I do not understand why anyone would ever buy jam or jelly. Patrick

  2. And store-bought jam has SO much sugar! It just tastes like candy to me. I like to taste fruit.