Unlike other types of fruit, blackberries do not ripen after they’re picked. This is why you have to make sure your berries are completely ripe before you start picking them. Whether you’re eating or storing your blackberries, it’s important that you pick them at the right time so that they will taste delicious.
When to Pick Blackberries
For most people in the US, the best time to pick blackberries is in July and August, but in the South and Pacific Northwest, the times are a bit different.
Southern states should pick blackberries in the spring or early summer, while people in the Pacific Northwest can pick blackberries in late summer until the first frost hits.
Blackberries should be picked when the color has changed from red to black, and you should never pick them when they are wet. If you do, they might get soggy or even start to mold.
In reality, you’ll usually only have about three weeks to pick your blackberries, and during this time, they need to be picked two to three times per week. Once they’re picked, you’ll have to eat them immediately or refrigerate them because they do not last long.
Keep in mind that even if you put your blackberries in the refrigerator they only last for 3-5 days.
When blackberries are a dull black and not a shiny black color, and when they are soft, they are ready to be picked.
Do Blackberries Get Sweeter After Picking?
Blackberries do not get sweeter after you pick them. When they are picked at the right time, meaning they are all black and have no red, green, or any other color on them, they are at their maximum sweetness.
If you pick them too soon, they can be tart and sometimes even bitter. They won’t necessarily lose their sweetness after they’re picked, but they will be as sweet as they’re ever going to be at that point.
How to Ripen Unripe Blackberries
If you pick blackberries too soon and they’re not yet ripe, there is something you can do to speed up the ripening process. For example, you can place the berries in an airtight container or bag, then place an apple in the bag as well.
Apples give off a gas called ethylene that automatically ripens any fruit that is nearby, so the berries will start to ripen almost immediately. Put the bag of fruit in a cool dark place but only keep it there a total of 24 hours. That should be enough to ripen the blackberries.
How to Know When Blackberries are Ripe
For blackberries, you have to pay attention to the calendar, but that calendar isn’t always the most important way to tell if your blackberries are ripe. Fully ripened blackberries have certain characteristics.
You can tell when blackberries are ripe by the color of the fruit. Blackberries should be a dull shade of black and tender to the touch.
They should be full and plump, and in addition to black, they may also be a deep purple or eggplant color. These are the best ways to tell if your blackberries are ripe enough to pick.
When Not to Pick Blackberries
First of all, you shouldn’t pick blackberries out of season. This will mean they’ll be either unripe with a tart or even bitter flavor or overly ripe with a flavor that isn’t quite right and a texture that is usually a little mushy.
If there are bits of other colors besides black or dark purple—including red, pinkish-red, or even green—that means they are not yet ripe enough to pick. If they’re moldy, starting to shrivel, or overly soft or squishy when you pick them, they have likely been there too long and won’t be any good.
What to Do with Unripe Blackberries
Unripe blackberries contain varying amounts of solanine, a poison that can cause problems if eaten. You should avoid eating unripe blackberries because of this.
There are things you can do with unripe blackberries if they are picked just a tad before you should have.
If your blackberry bush is producing these yummy berries in large numbers, it is easy to find yourself with at least some unripe berries that you have no plans for.
The best thing to do with unripe blackberries is to ripen them in a paper bag with an apple. The ethylene produced by the apple will induce ripening of the berries. While the sweetness wont’ increase significantly you can still use these berries once they have darkened in color. Here are some ideas.
Use them in baking
Add them to scones, muffins, and even cakes. Blackberries can make any recipe taste that much better, and don’t forget to apply a light dusting of flour over the berries first so that they won’t sink to the bottom but instead will spread out as they should.
Make them into a smoothie.
Fresh blackberries can be added to a smoothie or even made into a smoothie that uses blackberries and no other fruits. Don’t add a lot of other ingredients because they’ll drown out the flavor of the blackberries, and try freezing them for a short period of time so the texture of the smoothie is just right.
Use them to make jelly or jam.
Jellies and jams made with blackberries are really popular, and most of the recipes you’ll find are easy to make, even for beginners.
Can You Still Pick Blackberries in October?
It is generally not recommended that you pick your blackberries in October because, in most areas of the US, they need to be picked no later than August or September.
If you live in an area that has cool autumn weather and there hasn’t been a frost yet, you might be able to get away with it. Once the first frost arrives, it is too late to pick blackberries in most parts of the country.
When blackberries are ripe, they won’t get any riper just because they’ve been picked off of the bush. They also won’t get any sweeter, but this isn’t usually a problem because it is easy to tell when the berries are ripe enough to pick.
Just look for plumpness, a dark-purple or dull black color, and berries with no hints of other colors on them.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.