Find a local pick your own farm here!

Looking for Blackberry Varieties in 2024?  Scroll down this page and  follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.  If you are having a hard time finding canning lids, I've used these, and they're a great price & ship in 2 days.

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What's in season in February 2024, and other timely information:

Notes for February 2024: Summer is almost over and that means apples are here (see this new page for Apple Orchards in your area!), and except in northern areas, peaches and blueberries are finished. Some crops continue until frost, like raspberries, blackberries, figs, corn and tomatoes. Check your area's specific crop calendar (see this page) and call your local farms for seasonal updates.

See these pages to find a local Apple festival, and other festivals. We have a extensive guide to apple varieties and a guide to peach varieties. Also recipes, canning and freezing directions for apples, tomatoes, corn blueberries, peaches, etc.

And don't forget CORN MAZES are open now - find a local maze here.

See our comprehensive list of easy home canning, jam and jelly making, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! It is easy to make your own ice cream, even gelato, or low fat or low sugar ice cream - see this page. Also note, there are many copycat website listing U-pick farms now. The worst is the one that stole our name but ends with .farm.  (Yes, I've got lawyers on it)  They have all copied their information from here and usually do not ever update. Since 2002, I've been updating the information every day but Christmas; so if you see anything wrong or outdated, please write me!

Children's Consignment Sales are a great way to save money on clothes, toys, books, etc, They occur in both the Spring and Fall See our companion website to find a local community or church kid's consignment sale!

Guide to Blackberry Varieties

Blackberry Varietiesblackberries, just pick from a pick your own farm

In the U.S. Blackberries typically peak during June in the South, and in July in the North. Crops are ready at various times of the month depending on which part of the state you are located. In order to produce good local Blackberries, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions. See this page for a list of blackberry festivals around the U.S.

Thorny or thornless?

The thorny varieties, especially Kiowa tend to have a more intense flavor, but... those thorns.  Kiowa berries are so huge, though, that you can navigate around the thorns pretty well.

Single crop (June - July)

  • Apache - largest thornless upright berry
  • Arapaho - thornless upright excellent berry
  • Natchez - Very large berry, thornless upright
  • Quachita - Upright thornless variety, large berry
  • Kiowa - Extremely large with best quality of all varieties, thorny. It is thorny, but the flavor and size make it one of my favorites.
  • Navaho - Thornless erect, very large fruit highly recommended
  • Darrow - Thorny, exceptionally large, tasty, sugar sweet berry that just keeps on producing
  • Tupi - Thorny and super large

 

Dual crop (June/July and September)

These produce an early crop, rest a bit and then produce a second (usually smaller) crop

  • PRIME-ARK 45 -THORNY PRIMACANE AND FLORICANE FRUITING- BOTH SPRING AND FALL PRODUCTION
  • PRIME-ARK FREEDOM - THORNLESS PRIMACANE AND FLORICANE FRUITING BOTH SPRING AND FALL PRODUCTION

Wild blackberries for making jamTips

Tips on How to Pick Blackberries

  1. There are two types of blackberries to know about: thorny and thornless! Obviously, the thornless are easier to pick, but some people claim the thorny varieties are sweeter. With the thorny plants, you want to reach into the plant in the gaps, so you don't need to touch anything but the berry you're after, avoiding the thorns.
  2. A ripe blackberry is deep black with a plump, full feel. It will pull free from the plant with only a slight tug.  If the berry is red or purple, it's not ripe yet.
  3. Repeat these operations using both hands until each holds 3 or 4 berries.Unlike strawberries, blackberries are usually pretty tough, I dump mine into the bucket. Repeat the picking process with both hands.
  4. Don't overfill your containers or try to pack the berries down.

General Picking Tips

Whether you pick Blackberries from your garden or at a Pick-Your-Own farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Pick only the berries that are fully black. Reach in between the stems to grab for hidden berries ready for harvest. Bend down and look up into the plant and you will find loads of berries that other people missed!
  2. Avoid placing the picked berries in the sunlight any longer than necessary. It is better to put them in the shade of a tree or shed than in the car trunk or on the car seat. Cool them as soon as possible after picking. Blackberries may be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, depending upon the initial quality of the berry. After a few days in storage, however, the fruit loses its bright color and fresh flavor and tends to shrivel.

When you get home

  1. DON'T wash the berries until you are ready to use them or freeze them.  Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.
  2. Pour them out into shallow pans and remove any mushed, soft or rotting berries
  3. Put a couple of days supply into the fridge, wash  off the others, drain them and freeze them up! (Unless you're going to make jam right away) Blackberries are less perishable than blueberries or strawberries, but refrigerate them as soon as possible after picking. Temperatures between 34 F and 38 F are best, but, be careful not to freeze the blackberries (while they are in the fridge)!
  4. Even under ideal conditions blackberries will only keep for a week in a refrigerator, so for best flavor and texture, use them as soon as possible after purchase

Blackberry Recipes, Freezing and Jam directions

  1. How to make Blackberry jam - It is VERY easy - especially with our free Blackberry jam directions - very easy!
  2. How to make Blackberry jelly
  3. How to freeze berries
  4. Blackberry syrup, make and can it! 
  5. Seedless blackberry pie!
  6. Blackberry Festivals: Where, When and More to Find an Blackberry Festival Near You this year:

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Blackberries

  1. How to freeze blackberries?
    Just rinse them in cold water.  I use a large bowl filled with water, pour the berries in, and gently stir them with my fingers to dislodge any dirt or bugs.  Then using my fingers like a sieve, I scoop the blackberries out of the water, and put them in a drainer to let the water drain off. Then I just pour the berries into a ziploc bags or vacuum sealer bags and pop them in the freezer.  After they are frozen, I remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal the bags.
  2. Soaking in Salt Water?  Sinkers or Floaters?
     I planted 7 Blackberry bushes 2 years ago and am now in the midst of a lot of ripening berries. Therefor...I'm making jam (along with pies and cobblers). A friend told me that before I eat or cook with them, I should soak the freshly picked berries in the sink full of slightly warm water and a full Tablespoon of salt to remove any parasites (small worms). Have you ever heard of this? Do you know of specific directions to insure all the worms are removed? I've just been rinsing them and using them for the past couple of days. Also, the same friend said that if the berries floated in the water they were "good", but that if they sank to the bottom of the sink I should throw them out. What are your thoughts?

    Answer: Well, soaking in salt water sometimes (but now always) causes grubs to dislodge. BUT. in 30 years of growing blackberries in 12 states and 2 continents. I've never seen a bug in a blackberry.   But I have heard of folks who do have a problem with pests.

    If you see bugs in there, give it a try.  But until then, save yourself trouble and just wash them in a large bowl of cold water!

    Floaters v. sinkers?  Naaaahhhh!  I've never heard that the density of the berry was a consistent indicator of much other than weather conditions.
     

  3. I have picked my blackberries and have seen little worms. Not sure if these are fruit flys that have laid eggs in them - or if they are grubs. I picked some out than froze the berries. I have heard that cold will kill them or drawn them out. If I make jam the cooked way (not freezer jam) and some of the grubs/worms are left will it hurt people? I would like to believe I got them all but fear I did not.

    Answer:
    That sounds like some type of fruitworm, the grub or larval form of a beetle. Typically, they are about 1/4-inch long. Soaking for an hour or more in salt water (1 cup of slat to the gallon), may help draw them out. Cold would probably kill them, but leave them inside the fruit.  I don't imagine they would be harmful if cooked into jam... but I doubt anyone would ask for seconds if they found one.  Eeeewwwwww!

 

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Canning books

Canning & Preserving for Dummies by Karen Ward

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The Ball Blue Book of Home Canning

The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes Paperback - May 31, 2016

This is THE book on canning!  My grandmother used this book when I was a child.  It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.  If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)

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Ball Blue Book of Preserving