How to Clean Blackberries After Picking

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Marie is a keen gardener and loves to forage for wild berries in the Fall as well as grow food to eat.

How to clean blackberries after picking them. Tips on getting these fruit really clean without ruining them. Plump juicy blackberry fruit are wonderful for delicious puddings, drinks and treats.
How to clean blackberries after picking them. Tips on getting these fruit really clean without ruining them. Plump juicy blackberry fruit are wonderful for delicious puddings, drinks and treats. | Source

We're very lucky to have a wonderful, big blackberry bush right at the end of our backyard which provides food for us and also for our visiting garden birds who love to share and indulge in our abundant crop of plump, sweet and juicy blackberries.

Every year we get a harvest of these sweet and slightly tangy berries that are used fresh in homemade fruit pies, crisps, smoothies, ice cream, cake and cookie icing and frosting, fruit salads, juice and just as they are.

There are always so many blackberries that we have to end up freezing them in freezer bags which gives us a great supply that we can dip into throughout the year.

Being small and also prone to breaking easily once they are fully ripe and bursting with juice, they're fragile and not at all easy to clean well unless you know how. If you wash them too harshly, you'll end up with a wasted mush that no one will want to eat.

Can you see the wriggly worm in the photo below? If you don't wash your blackberries carefully after picking them, this is what you will be eating!

See How to Get Worms Out of Blackberries and Get Them Really Clean!

How to get worms out of blackberries by washing them clean carefully in water
How to get worms out of blackberries by washing them clean carefully in water | Source

The big problem with wild or home blackberries that you pick is that there are always a number of really teeny tiny bugs, worm like creatures and caterpillars that hide out in these fruits. You probably don't want to be biting in to these!.

Even more reason for these fruits to be getting a jolly good wash and clean. Here's my tips on how to wash them well without spoiling your harvest.

Image above belongs to the author of this article: Marie Williams Johnstone


  • Freshly picked blackberries
  • Tap water
  • A large bowl
  • A colander or sieve
  • Paper or cloth towel for drying
  • Vinegar (optional)

Instructions on How to Wash and Clean Blackberries

1. Some people recommend just rinsing blackberries in a colander or a sieve to clean them. This is definitely not what I recommend because I know from experience that you can still end up with little bugs remaining and hiding in the fruit if you try to wash them this way.

What they need for a proper clean is a good soak. Fill up a large bowl of tepid or cool water and gently place your berries into the bowl. If you put your berries in first, before adding the water, you can end up breaking some with the heavy stream of water coming into the bowl.

You can just use water to clean them which is what I normally do. Some people swear by adding in some vinegar into the water to properly clean and surface sterilize them. I like to use apple cider vinegar, especially an organic version which is said to be a healthy and beneficial addition to our diet. However, you need 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar if you do choose to do this with your soak.

2. Once the blackberries are in the bowl, use your hands to gently swirl the berries around. This action should result in many of the bugs and unwanted bits floating to the top of the water.

Sometimes I get caterpillars, which look like little worms, floating to the top. You can then easily see these to scoop them out with a little cup or spoon and remove them. Normally they are a light color and show up easily against the dark berries.

3. Carefully tip the blackberries into a sieve or a colander, dispose of the water and then repeat the soaking process again. I do a total of 3 good soaks before draining off in a colander or sieve for the last time.

It is a bit laborious but I like to know that my blackberries are nice and clean. After going to all the trouble of picking them, it is worth spending time making sure that they are well washed.

4. To dry your fruit, you can leave them to air dry for a while and then spread paper towels or a fabric cloth onto a large tray and carefully tip or scoop out the berries on top of this.

The paper or fabric will help to soak up some of the remaining moisture from washing. However, please note that the dark berry juice can stain a fabric towel or cloth so you may prefer to use disposable paper ones instead.

Blackberries make delicious shakes and refreshing drinks mixed and blended up with milk, ice cream or yogurt.
Blackberries make delicious shakes and refreshing drinks mixed and blended up with milk, ice cream or yogurt. | Source

5. The last process for me is to sort the blackberry fruit out. I like to first pick out the mashy and broken berries to use in refreshing drinks and smoothies since they are going to get mashed up in the blender anyway.

Alternatively I can use mushy ones for frosting and icing for baking. I can also use them for fruit preserves. The nice and whole fresh berries will be put aside to use in fruit pies or crisps, trifles and fruit salads, whatever I want to make.

Whatever I do not need immediately will be frozen in bags of around 20-30 berries. They freeze very well and, though they are a little mushy once defrosted, they are perfectly good enough to use in recipes such as apple and blackberry crisp crumble, smoothies, homemade ice cream, and cupcake frosting throughout the year.

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Marie

    What do you like to use blackberries for? Please share your favorite methods of eating this fruit below.

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        Fiona 7 months ago

        I make blackberry custard. There are too many pips in them for me, so after I've soaked the berries i pass them through a fine sieve. Then add to custard. Or whizz in ice cold milk.

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        Alyssa aged11 8 months ago

        I picked some blackberries with my brother and I was wondering how to clean them

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        Lena Durante 11 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

        Blackberries grow over our fence from the neighbor's yard, but most of them don't ever make them to the kitchen! I just pick them and eat them straight off the vine.

        They do bruise easily, so I agree that you should never put them in a colander, because the little holes will cut up and burst your berries! Swirling them in a bowl is definitely the way to go.

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        Amy 21 months ago

        Thank you so very much! My son and I just came home with our first tub of blackberries here in the Netherlands and much to our dismay we discovered an abundance of caterpillars/grubs. Yuck! We are now on our second soak and hope to make some delicious grub-free smoothies later :) Thanks for the information. I was truly about to give this batch to the birds.

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        Jill 3 years ago

        Great article. Thanks so much for the advice!

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        Marie 4 years ago

        @ecogranny: Yes, washing too vigorously is not good with soft berries unless you don't mind them all mashed up of course. Thank you for your visit :)

      • Craftymarie profile image

        Marie 4 years ago

        @Brite-Ideas: Thanks, especially as they are a favorite fruit of mine!

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        Kathryn Grace 4 years ago from San Francisco

        Excellent tips. I must admit, I have long washed my berries in a colander and always ended up with far too many mashed and broken because I sprayed them so long. Your way is so much smarter! Thank you for sharing this.

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        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        wow, you are very fortunate to have your own Blackberry Bush - wonderful

      • Craftymarie profile image

        Marie 4 years ago

        @Joanna14: Mmm, blackberry jam is divine. I like that spread in the middle of large sandwich cakes or baked as a hidden surprise inside cupcakes - best served still warm. Thank you and no it's not always obvious how best to clean certain fruits without destroying them.

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        Christine Hulme 4 years ago from SE Kent, England

        Actually this is very helpful advice, because I know from experience that it's not as easy to do as you might think. Good idea and yes- I love picking my own blackberries and making mostly jam!