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How to Wash and Clean Blackberries After Picking

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Marie is a keen gardener and loves to forage for wild berries in the fall. She also loves to grow her own food.

Learn the art of washing blackberries without reducing them to mush.

Learn the art of washing blackberries without reducing them to mush.

How to Wash Blackberries Without Destroying Them

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

Every year we get a bumper harvest of these sweet and slightly tangy berries. We use them to make fruit pies, crisps, smoothies, ice cream, cake and cookie icing and frosting, fruit salads and juice. We also enjoy eating them plain, just as they are.

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

Since blackberries are prone to breaking easily once they are fully ripe and bursting with juice, they're quite fragile. This makes them difficult to clean well because if you wash them too vigorously they'll all break apart and be ruined.

But fret not. I'm here to show you how to clean your berries properly without reducing them to a mush that no one will want to eat.

Learn how to get worms and bugs out of blackberries by carefully washing them.

Learn how to get worms and bugs out of blackberries by carefully washing them.

How to Get Worms and Bugs Out of Blackberries

The big problem with wild or homegrown blackberries 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 eating these!

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

What You'll Need

  • Tap water
  • Large bowl
  • Colander or sieve
  • Paper or cloth towel for drying
  • Vinegar (optional)

What NOT to Do

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. For a proper clean what they need is a good soak.

Washing and Cleaning Instructions

  1. 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.

    Vinegar option: I normally just use clean water to soak my berries, but some people swear by adding in some vinegar into the water to properly clean and surface-sterilize them. When I do this, I like to use apple cider vinegar, especially an organic version which is said to be a healthy and beneficial addition to our diet. If you choose to do a water-vinegar soak, the proper proportion is 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar.
  2. Swirl and scoop: 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 and scoop them out with a little cup or spoon. Normally they are a light color and show up easily against the dark berries.
  3. Drain and soak again: 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 three good soaks before draining off in a colander or sieve for the last time. (Yes, it's a bit laborious, but I like to know that my blackberries are nice and clean. After going to all the trouble of picking them, I think it's worth spending time making sure that they are well washed.)
  4. Dry: Leave the berries to air-dry for a while in the colander or sieve. 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.
  5. Sort: The last step for me is sorting. First I like to pick out the mushy 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. Then I put aside the nice and whole fresh berries to use in fruit pies or crisps, trifles and fruit salads, whatever I want to make.

Cleaning Blackberries: Step-by-Step Guide




Soak in clean water (or 3:1 :: water:vinegar)


Swirl and scoop

Swirl the berries with your fingers; scoop out the bugs and debris.


Drain and soak again

I do a total of 3 good soaks before the final draining.



Air-dry in colander or sieve; then spread them out on paper towels or cloth.



Separate the mushy berries from the nice whole ones.

How to Freeze Fresh Blackberries

Whatever I do not need immediately will be frozen in bags of around 20 to 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.

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.

Delicious Blackberry Recipes

© 2013 Marie