The Art of Wild Raspberry Picking
How To Find The Treasured Patches
First of all, you’ll have to find a place where wild raspberries grow. There are two ways to do this.
- Make very good friends with people who already know where wild raspberries grow, then ask them. You may have to swear an oath to never disclose this information to anyone on pain of death. Most casual acquaintances will never give up their secret location; to them it’s like giving out their bank account numbers to strangers. Or you could……
- Do a lot of hiking and searching. You’ll enjoy the outdoors. I can give you one hint on where to find them. Wild raspberries like well drained hillsides and roadsides where there tends to be a lot of moisture. When picking on the hillside be careful. It’s hard to hang on to your bucket and cling vertically to roots and grass at the same time. And just make sure you’re not trespassing! Get permission.
Wild raspberries are usually ripe in the Rockies of Colorado around the middle or end of August. The ripening time in your area may be different. In that case, check on them every so often until you see the bright red of these beauties and they pretty much fall off the stems. Keep in mind that bears like them too.
There are a few items you’ll need to pick these mouth watering delights.
- A good stout bucket or rigid container with a lid. A clean coffee can or gallon ice cream bucket works great, unless you forget to put the lid on and you happen to be on a hillside making your way to another bush and the bucket takes a tumble, frustrating you to no end because now the berries are on the ground mixing with dirt, grass and who knows what from passing wild animals. Don’t forget the lid!
- Clothes and shoes that are comfortable and that you don’t care about. If you happen to get into your picking like I do, raspberry juice all over your shirt and pants can make it look like you just survived the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, so you’ll need old clothes. It may be best to avoid public places right after picking too.
- Gloves, if you’re not into collecting the fine thorns in your hand. I don’t use gloves because with them you can’t grab the berry gently enough to loosen it from the stem without making berry paste.
- Friends or family. You may have to make your friends and family swear the above mentioned oath. Also note that bears don’t usually like to deal with more than one person at a time. There’s safety in numbers.
I’ve discovered while picking berries with friends or family that there are only two types of berry pickers. You’ll want to choose the right kind. They are:
- Hoarders; they get right to it. They take this berry picking seriously and want to get as many as possible in the shortest time possible.
- Eaters; these are the worst kind. They will pick a berry, turn it over in their hands, come up with something philosophical about nature and then plop it into their gaping mouth. One or two raspberries might end up in the bucket, but don’t count on it. An Eater may deny having gorged themselves,but their ruby red lips give them away.
Picking the Wild Raspberry
Finally, there two ways to pick wild raspberries.
- The easy way. Just pick the ones on top and go on to the next bush. The Eaters like this method best.
- The painful way. In order to get to the biggest, best and most, you have to pull up a thorny branch on the bush to expose the underside. Very often you’ll be amazed at what you find. It’s worth the pain.
Once you’ve collected your wild raspberries, you can jam them, make them into syrup or any recipe you choose.
If you decide to make jam, be sure to make some homemade bread too. When boiling the jam there’s a fruity froth that you skim off the top that tastes like something from heaven when spread on fresh, warm bread with butter. If jamming for the first time, you’ll find that most fruit pectin products contain recipes inside the packages.
Some say wild raspberries taste better because of the work and love you put in to get them to the table. The Eaters disagree. They say wild raspberries taste much better even if you don’t work at all. But don’t take our words for it, try it and decide!
© 2013 Joni Bryant