How to Clean Blackberries After Picking

Plump juicy blackberries make wonderful fruits for delicious puddings, drinks and treats.
Plump juicy blackberries make wonderful fruits for delicious puddings, drinks and treats.

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. And there are always so many that we have to end up freezing them too 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. The other problem with these is that there are a number of really teeny tiny bugs and even caterpillars that hide out in these fruits which you probably don't want to be biting in to. So even more reason for them to be getting a jolly good wash and clean! Here's how to wash them well without spoiling your harvest.

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


  • Freshly picked blackberries
  • Tap Water
  • Paper or Cloth Towel for Drying


1. Some people recommend 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 soak. So fill up a large bowl of cool water and place your berries in the bowl. If you put your berries in first, you can end up breaking some with the stream of water coming into the bowl.

2. Once in the bowl, use your hands to gently swirl the berries around. This action should result in some bugs and unwanted bits floating to the top of the water. Sometimes I get caterpillars floating to the top. You can then easily see these to scoop them out and remove them.

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.

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 the berries on top. The paper or fabric will help to soak up some of the remaining moisture from washing. Note that the juice can stain a fabric towel or cloth.

5. The last process for me is to sort them out. I like to first pick out the mashy and broken berries to use in smoothies since they are going to get mashed up in the blender anyway or for using as frosting or icing for baking or for jam and preserves. Nice, whole fresh ones will be put aside to use in fruit pies or crisps, trifles or fruit salads - whatever I want to make.

Whatever I do not need will be frozen in bags of around 20-30 berries. They freeze well and, though are a little mushy once defrosted, 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. I hope you have found this lens or article to be useful because it has been written with care. The image here shows my homemade blackberry ice cream - yum!

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What do you like to use blackberries for? Please share your favorite methods of eating this fruit below. 8 comments

Amy 2 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.

Jill 2 years ago

Great article. Thanks so much for the advice!

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Craftymarie 2 years ago Author

@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 :)

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Craftymarie 2 years ago Author

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

ecogranny profile image

ecogranny 2 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.

Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

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

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Craftymarie 2 years ago Author

@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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Joanna14 2 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!

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