I was out in "the patch" picking wild black raspberries again last night, and it occured to me, as I pulled another thorn out of my thumb, that there should be a rule book on this little venture!
After many scratches, thorns, wipe outs and more, I'm happy to have you learn from my mistakes after reading this post!
You will find these berries growing in treelines and in the woods among the thicket. Remember to always properly identify anything that you have foraged before consuming!
First, the most important rule of wild berry picking is function, not fashion! (that's my husband's line that he has been drilled into my head...only took 15 years!) I do know that I look like a bit of an idiot in this getup but it's highly unlikely that "Tristan" from "Legends of the Fall" will come sauntering through these bushes!
This time of year, the mosquitoes are ruthless and will drive you nuts, so covering up is important! This is the face mask that I use for turkey hunting but I find it handy for foraging...you can find these masks at most stores that sell hunting equipment.
Never wear beach gear while picking these berries...if the bugs don't get you, these thorns will! If you don't want to look llike a rabid cat used you as a scratching post, wear pants and a long sleeved shirt. I also wear my turkey hunting gloves...they are quite thin and still allow you to grasp the delicate berries.
Don't just pick the berries that you see on top of the bush...carefully lift the cane branches up...sometimes the juiciest raspberries are hiding under there!
Be aware of your surroundings...make noise as you walk through the woods because you definitely don't want to surprise a bear that has been lollygagging in the berry patch treating it like a buffet...they don't like to share!
These canes have been stripped by a bear...clearly he doesn't know that I make jelly out of these berries! It's also a good idea when foraging, to remember that this is a food source for many birds and animals...leave some for them as they can't just whip out their Sobey's card and pick up a few things!
Gathering wild berries can be fun and rewarding as long as you are dressed accordingly and are mindful of your surroundings..oh, if you decide to hop a fence, make sure it's not electric...with the voltage set for draft horses...my lips are still numb!!