South of the Fraser

Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langleys

Blackberry season in full tilt

Blackberries! Hobos' scourge! Free fruit!


It's that time of year again, where with a bit of foresight and a few buckets you can scrounge up enough free fruit within Surrey for jelly, desserts and have enough frozen to last until next year. A delicious, easy-to-make dessert is at the end of this article.

According to the Wikipedia article humans have been eating blackberries for thousands of years. And no wonder!

Where to pick blackberries

Almost every field and undeveloped lot will have brambles growing out of them. However, I noticed the City of Surrey cut back quite a bit on 100th Avenue just past 148th Street, right through Green Timbers Park. I'm sure it was necessary, but the timing was unfortunate as it cut back the fruit-bearing parts. I saw one poor soul strolling listlessly with her bucket up and down looking for a few stray canes within reach.

Unlike the huckleberry, salmon berry and soap berry (yech), you don't have to feel guilty about taking all you can get your hands on. That's because the blackberry is really a weed and you're doing everyone a favour to remove as many seeds from potential germination as possible. At least, that's my excuse.

Pickin' tips

When ripe, the blackberry will fall into your hand. Cup your hand under the fruit and gently roll it with your thumb and forefinger. If it doesn't immediately roll off into your hand it will be tart. That won't matter too much if you're cooking them into a crumble or betty, but if you want the sweetest, juiciest raw experience ever , then only collect the berries that fall apart unless you hold them with the utmost delicacy.

The truly ripe ones will fall apart on you, those ones you should eat as you pick them!

Even though the day is likely to be hot you'll need long sleeves, long pants and tramplin' shoes. Even then, after a successful day of foraging (you are going for the whole day aren't you?) you will be cover with scratches and stab wounds and covered with a sticky reddish-black ichor. Hopefully it isn't all blood.

The best berries will be just out of reach. This is an unbreakable law. However, if you're serious, consider taking a wide-legged collapsible step-stool. Yes, you will look foolish, but do you want the best fruit or don't you?

There's nothing like the warm smell of ripened blackberries on a bush at the end of a hot, hot afternoon. Nothing, perhaps, except being able to pick the perfect one that sums up the entire summer in one fruit.

A delicious chilled dessert recipe

This raw-food dessert has the texture of cheese cake. It's super-easy to make and is sugar-free.

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dates (pitted) that have been soaking for a few hours
pinch of salt
Blend together in a food processor until all smooshy. Press into a container. I use a 5x7 tupperware-like thing, but whatever you have will be fine.

Stuff inside:
1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, soaked for four or five hours
juice of one lemon (a real lemon is best, but the bottled stuff is ok too)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/3 cup of coconut oil -- if I can find this at Price Smart I'm sure you can too. It's usually with the exotic oils, like grapeseed oil, etc
1/3 cup of honey
1 cup (or more) of blackberries
Warm up the coconut oil so it's liquid. Mix in the honey. Combine everything together in the food processor until it's super-smooth. Pour on top of the crust.

Then, either freeze it (sort of like a frozen ice-cream cake), or keep it in the fridge. Or some sort of combination! The oil and cashews make it seem like a cheese cake, and help solidify it. You can also get tricky and pour half of the mixture on top of the crust before adding the berries. Then you'll have a two-tone cake. Clever!


Info on South of the Fraser River: Surrey, Delta, White Rock, City of Langley, Township of Langley, Fort Langley. Maybe a bit of Abbotsford, just for fun.

This site is experimental. See About (top right) for more, or Blog for meta-information. The working goal is to create an almanac of items, tidbits of information and methods of gathering information.

Right now the site is biased to just south of the Fraser River, within the northern reaches of great City of Surrey, but there is some foraging further afield.

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