Is It Berry Picking Time At Your House?

An issue we had at the Blind Pig house last summer has haunted us all winter long-even into this summer! The issue: NO BLACKBERRY JELLY!

The blackberries around my house didn’t do so well last summer and I missed out on all the ‘buckets of blackberries’ people sold on our local radio show Party Line. So that left the Blind Pig family with no blackberry jelly-which made us very sad. We had plenty of apple, grape, and strawberry jelly-but blackberry is our favorite.

I’m determined to remedy that issue this summer, and I’ve been keeping a close watch on our blackberries, but with the late spring and the soggy weather our blackberries seem to be taking forever to get ripe this year.

Check out the post below-from June of 2010 to learn more about my favorite berries that grow wild in Southern Appalachia.

Wild berries in western nc

This time of the year, I start checking on the Blackberries that grow wild around my house-they are just now beginning to ripen. A recent email from a reader of the Blind Pig got me to thinking about the other wild berries that grow here.


Dewberries are similar to Blackberries-in appearance and in taste. Dewberry brambles are smaller than their cousin the Blackberry-Dewberries also have more of a twining vine look to them. Around my house-Dewberries grow in the same areas Blackberries do-as in across the road from each other. Although Dewberries are just as tasty as Blackberries-they don’t usually bear the same quantity of fruit that Blackberries do.

Wild blueberries

Of all the berries-Blueberries are hands down my favorite. If nothing happens-the tame ones I have planted in my yard look to hold the biggest harvest I’ve ever gotten-I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Lucky for me-Wild Blueberries also grow around my mountain holler-and they’re all ready ripe. I found the little patch above growing along the bank of Steve’s (my brother’s) driveway-kinda selfish-but I haven’t told anyone else-cause I’m eating them all by myself.


Huckleberries are similar in taste to Blueberries-but they are much smaller-and don’t get ripe till later in the season. Huckleberries grow all around my holler-but especially up on the ridge behind my house. The little patch above is growing along the trail leading from Pap and Granny’s house to ours. When Chitter and Chatter were younger I used to watch for them when it was time for the school bus-they had a pretty far piece to walk. During the first weeks of school-I knew they’d make pit stops at the huckleberry bushes that grow along the trail-eating their way home.

Another common berry around my house-Gooseberries. I went to the bush I remembered being near Pap’s garage to get a picture-but it’s no where to be seen. I believe the last time the EMC trimmed they must have gotten it. Gooseberries are a greenish color-shaped like Blueberries. They have a sweet taste but not as sweet as Blueberries.

Hows the berries doing around your place?


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  • Reply
    July 16, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Tamela-you can go here to see all the recipes I’ve shared on the Blind Pig: for the comments!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of

  • Reply
    Tony Maynard
    July 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Here in Bracken County (Northern Ky)The black berries are in full swing!I love it.I remember pickin with my gramps when I was a little guy.They were much more plentiful back in those days.I think of him every year when its time for pickin.Blackberry pie is my fav.

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    July 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Those blackberries sure are good anyway you fix them. I’ve been watching them to but they don’t seem to want to ripen. I would like to make some jelly or jam out of them..Good luck with your canning and jelly making.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 14, 2013 at 12:36 am

    The strawberries in our area are done. The blueberries are presently being picked. I haven’t seen any raspberries or blackberries here abouts. What I miss most though is what we had at the house we lived at previous to moving to the country, and that’s the mulberries. I use to sit in the shade beneath those trees (they’re suppose to be bushes, but these were wild and huge) for hours with a cuppa coffee and eat the things until my fingers and mouth were bright blue. Since they grew wild there, maybe I’ll be able to find another or two in the wild again one day and bring it to our house to grow.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    One more thought – with all the wonderful tasted treats mentioned here, perhaps you could run a couple of recipe blogs (and not just about berries – or maybe I should check out the archives.
    Bean bread? Cherokee Bean Balls? and, of course, all the berry delicious recipes1

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    July 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Our blueberries are ripe, but my blackberries are still red. I have only picked two ripe ones. I prefer blackberry jam over blackberry jelly – it’s delicious.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I have a cure for the snakes in the blackberry patch. Fire up a chain saw and set it on the ground on one side of the patch for 2-3 minutes. You can watch the snakes skedaddle out the other side. The vibrations get them moving.
    For those with tame and wild blackberries just mix them and you still get good tasting jams and jellies.
    Our blueberries are almost done. We put about 5 gallons in the freezer. We have 8 bushes about 3-4 years old so they are just getting started.
    When we operated a food pantry in Utah we recieved 300 lbs of frozen blackberries in 30 lb cases. We knew none of our clients had freezer space for 30 lbs and probably most would not know what to do with them. Since we also held ‘life skill’ classes I made jam and jelly while my wife explained the process. One client said, “This is just like watching Emril on TV.” We let everyone taste the results and constantly heard, “This is much better than that stuff we buy.” We gave each family enough berries and sugar to make a run at home.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Blueberries and huckleberries just finished up here in FL, I picked my share and have a freezer full.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Tipper, In Ky the wild red raspberries come in 1st, I put up several jars of those. They make a beautiful ruby colored jam. We are now in the middle of the best blackberry season in years, but after about 20 jars of jam & 12 of whole-berry pancake syrup I’m ready to quit, the old man and I need to be watching our sugar intake! We have picked a couple of gallons for an elderly aunt. Around here when the “economic downturn” hit people quit making a lot of expensive dessert recipes and went back to blackberry cobblers! Darling, nothing short of hellfire will stop a southern woman from setting a decent table! Beth

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    July 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Tipper, the blue berry picking is just about over in our back yard. I had a good picking, except I had to fight all the big birds and especially the mean mocking bird.
    I told Mr. Mockingbird, I didn’t care for them eating some of them, but not to peck the berries with one peck and leave and go another and do the same peck on them because they will rot or I have to pick it off and drop it on the ground. You just keep this up and I’ll just have to shot your pecker off.
    I guess I picked about 10 gallon and still a lot more. I use to have gooseberries, but the bushes got old. The wild berries all taste better than tame ones. The grandchildren, big and little really enjoyed them.
    We are having the good fresh beans, squash, cucumbers, onions and collard greens out of the garden. This is so good with cornbread. One of our great-grand daughters went to a two- week class/school on our culture. One thing they made was Cherokee Bean Balls. She said we had this good bacon we ate with our Bean Bread and they called it fat back. Have you ever eat this? Boy, it is really good.
    My turkey beans are really growing, running up a string ten foot and still going trying to reach Heaven. They are now blooming.
    We usually have rain every day.
    Tipper you have good posts everyday. I don’t have any sound on my computer. So I can’t hear the music.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    There are scads of wild blackberries all over here but I am too afraid of snakes to go pick them.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I just picked & froze Strawberries this morning. We have June Berries here but they are not doing so well this year. Lot’s of Choke Cherries.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    July 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    My favorite is black raspberries. My fingers are purple from picking. We have had purple milkshakes and everyone’s favorite black raspberry cobbler. I know they’re ready when the day lilies herald their arrival with their trumpet-shaped blooms along the lane. The blackberries are just getting ready to bear. Do you have mulberries? Our trees are laden with the super sweet berries. Anybody got a recipe for mulberry anything? I don’t think it would take much sugar for them.

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    The sunshine we’ve had yesterday
    and today is a welcome site. I’ll
    have to check out my wild black-
    berries tomorrow cause it looks
    like my green beans growed a foot
    yesterday. It’s amazing what a
    little sun will do, but everything
    is a whole lot slower about
    producing this year…Ken

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Today is the Blackberry Festival in Lenoir, NC. I was up there as early as I dared, that is, before the opening. I got my basket of blackberries and I am now in the process of making some long craved bread. I made a bit of a mess and will clean up the stains shortly. Yummy!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 13, 2013 at 11:53 am

    blackberry jam is yummy but blackberry cobbler is AWESOME!!!!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 13, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I bought a pint of blackberries at our local farmers market this morning. They taste wonderful …….but…… they are not the same as the wild blackberries. I could buy enough of these to make a run of jelly but it wouldn’t be nearly as good as the wild ones. These cultivated blackberries do not have the strong flavor of the wild ones so the jelly would come out kind of weak or washed out compared to what I’m used to.
    Saleh has a bumper crop of blueberries coming and he’s planning the first quart for you! He knows how you love them.
    So, I’ll eat my pint of blackberries and enjoy them but wish I had some wild ones.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 13, 2013 at 11:16 am

    We had lots of blackberry blossoms earlier all along the roads and on property, but it has been so incredibly rainy, I don’t know what will happen with the berries. And even if they do come out well, I don’t know if we will brave the rain to try to get them before the bears and the mockingbirds get the berries.
    I also love blackberries. Not as crazy about blueberries, but I have never been known to turn down a slice of blueberry pie!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Tipper–You left out another tasty berry which makes fine jelly, pies, and wine and is plentiful in the high country–the elderberry.
    Also, although they’ve long since come and gone, don’t forget the wonderful wild strawberry.
    Then there are wild raspberries–both the black caps at lower elevations and the red ones at loftier altitudes.
    As for dewberries, although they are a booger to pick, to my way of thinking they are in a class by themselves. My, is a dewberry cobbler fine.
    As for picking–I gathered a gallon of blackberries last night to give to some friends we’re visiting later today, and I have enough blueberries for the world (although we’ve had way to much rain and some are splitting from excess moisture).
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 13, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I’m familiar with all the berries you mentioned, and particularly remember as a child going on “blackberry picking” trips to where the wild berries grew on sticky vines along fence rows and the like. We picked bucketsful to can, make juice from, and of course to make blackberry jelly and jam. All of this “putting up” meant treats like blackberry cobbler and jam and jelly on hot biscuits until blackberries came in again the next year! It wasn’t until I was grown and owned a house of my own that we “set out” cultivated blackberry plants on which grew the berries I then “put up.”–No going out to find them (along with a generous helping of chigger bites to exposed skin!). It seems that the tame blackberries never did have the crisp, delicious flavor of the wild ones we gathered when I was young. Is it that we lose our sense of taste, or is the adventure of finding a berry patch added to the pleasure of tasting, gathering and preserving them?

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

    In Central Texas, the dewberries come ripe around Mothers’ Day; unfortunately, this year we had a weak show.
    Grapes have started coming in already although they don’t usually ripen here until the end of July. We’ve aleady picked one bucket full and turned them into juice for jelly and syrup making.
    Escarpment Cherries have been and gone. You have to catch them just right because they fall so fast after they are ripe. Didn’t have many of them this year either although it looks like maybe a few of the trees may be putting on some late. Only had enough enough to sample and put on a good pucker – they need quite a bit of sugar but do make a good jelly. And, yes, I know they aren’t a berry but they come in about the same time.
    This drought has been hard on all fruit, especially the natives that don’t get watered.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    July 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Tipper: Your berry blog makes me plum hungry! We have only wild and tame blueberries in our yard. Jim has built the JAMES WIKE FORT around the tame ones (13 bushes). However the squirrels have now determined how to get into the Fort and eat/shake the blueberries. Jim has been patient with the dang squirrels but I have declared WAR on them. If I ever get a strike landing on their head they will be dead! I am using an OAR as my weapon of SQUIRREL WARFARE. But so are they have escaped my strikes of DESTRUCTION! Now I will just go play tennis and pretend to be hitting a squirrel instead of the ball!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    July 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I got on the 4-wheeler yesterday evening and went looking for berries. I didn’t see any more than 10-15. The lack of brakes kept me from venturing down the bottoms where a big blackberry patch used to be. The deer are eating rose bushes, fruit tree limbs and about anything they can get their mouth on, so, I’m sure they have found all ripe berries around here.
    All the old timers are saying they have never seen deer eat and destroy as much vegetation as they have this year. I wonder if it’s because the deer population is bigger or that the wet weather has made everything tastier.

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