The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

July 31, 2013

Amanda Stone: Picking blackberries not an easy task

JOPLIN, Mo. — It's that prickly time of year when blackberries become irresistible. If you're smart, you'll buy a box of beautiful, plump blackberries at the farmers market for $3. Worth every penny.

Because of my frugality, and the general belief that we should pick our own food as much as possible, I accepted a friend's invitation to pick blackberries on her property. I do this every year, and every year I wonder why in the world I'm doing it. I wear long sleeves, jeans with socks pulled up over them to avoid the inevitable chiggers, topped off with a ridiculously huge sun hat. It's quite the ensemble. Combined with the heat and humidity, I'm sure it feels just like picking wild berries in the jungle.

Oh, the thorns. At one point, my back, leg and hand were all pierced with thorns. I felt like a bug trapped in a spider's web, with buzzing beetles flying all around waiting to land on me without a free hand to swat them away. Blackberry picking should be a task reserved for prisoners, but only the ones who have committed unspeakable crimes.

Drama aside, I'm simply warning you to go into this endeavor with a clear heart. You may never see your loved ones again after you enter the entanglement of a blackberry bush that's heavy with berries. Not that I'm discouraging you; hand-picked berries are the sweetest. I'm sure I'll forget by next year and you'll find me in the same predicament.

When you make it home with your blackberry bounty, go through them and toss out the undesirables, random leaves and (gasp) stray beetles. Blackberries only last for a couple of days in the fridge before they get squishy, so have a plan in place. No worries: They freeze beautifully. Just rinse them, pat them dry and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, store them in a freezer bag. Then pat yourself on the back -- you've pulled off quite a feat. You won't have to think about them again until you're ready to try one of these recipes.

 

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