Summer Berry Foraging


Last week, Gabriel brought blueberries home from the farmer’s market. This week, the wild blackberries are turning from green, to pink, to red. And so in honor of all abundance of summer, wanted to re-post this article from last year about some of the produce that can be foraged this time of year.

Earlier in the Spring I wrote about how I didn’t believe it was possible to starve to death here in Tennessee (and in lots of other places!). That’s just one of the many things I love about this place.

Now that it’s summer, there aren’t as many greens to forage, but oh my goodness, the blackberries are ripening! I’m so excited! Last year I didn’t get to pick any thanks to Garrett’s being a fussy newborn. This year, I hope to pick enough to make up for it.

sorry for the not-so-great pic. Garrett was being wiggly!

Last year at the farmer’s market, blackberries were selling for twenty dollars a gallon – and those were tame blackberries! If you frequent u-pick farms (or even if you don’t!) I highly recommend finding some wild blackberries to forage instead. Not only will you save a bundle of money, wild blackberries have better flavor, and smaller seeds as well. In my opinion, they’re well worth braving the stickers and chiggers for.

I remember picking blackberries in Illinois one time and coming across a patch of wild gooseberries. That was pretty cool too!

Also in the berry category is mulberries. We used to have a mulberry tree in our front yard. We’d (us kids that is) lay a tarp underneath the tree and try to get somebody to climb the tree and shake the branches for us. That was the biggest mulberry tree I’ve ever seen – too big for me to climb! Most mulberry trees I’ve seen though are much smaller and easier to harvest.

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I love mulberries even better than blackberries if that’s possible.

Wild passion fruit is another great summer fruit.

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As kids we used to find it by the creek and eat the seeds out.

And speaking of things found by the creek, don’t forget about jewel weed. If you follow a creek very far, you’re sure to find some.

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Did you know that jewel weed is a type of impatien? I didn’t know that. But anyway, it’s great for skin irritations such as poison ivy (just in case you happen to get into any while picking blackberries ). You can crush it, and use the juice. Or if you’re a soap maker, add some to a batch of soap.

Last but not least – no, not at all! – we have elderberries. They usually ripen sometime in September around here I think, but everything seems to be ripening early this year – that’s fine with me!

Here’s what ours look like right now:

Mostly still blooming with a few clusters of little green berries here and there.

Here’s what they should look like when they’re ripe:

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Elderberries are often hailed as a super food. In fact, you can buy elderberry supplements meant to help ward off common sicknesses. I prefer to stick with the real thing myself.

Ah, all these berries are making me hungry!

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