Tonight’s Forage Friday is one that everyone should be familiar with. Brambles!
I have chosen to lump all of the various types under the umbrella of Brambles but they include, Loganberries, Boysenberries, Blackberries and Raspberries as well as dewberries. Most people know that these are all clusters of berries that grow on thorn covered canes. A few will even know that the easy way to tell the difference between a true blackberry and a black raspberry is that the raspberries normally have a cup shaped berry and are usually smaller. Tonight’s feature image is actually a Black Raspberry in my property that was storm damaged but fruited anyway.
Now, every country boy knows that the proper way to enjoy brambles is in the form of a fresh baked cobbler that is served warm with vanilla ice cream. This is to be enjoyed at a large table during a family meal and preferably on Sunday afternoon. 😉 This was always something that we looked forward to when I was a kid. Even today the sight of brambles growing on the edge of a field or some seldom traveled dirt road conjures up the memories of my grandma’s house and the smells of a home cooked meal. Back in those days the extended family wasn’t spread out across the globe. Every Sunday was like a family reunion.
There’s definitely an art to picking brambles. Long sleeves and gloves are common recommendations but I have to wonder if the person who wrote those recommend guidelines lived in the South. Brambles usually ripen during the hottest time of the year here. For me dealing with a few scratches on my arms is preferable to heat stroke. I have a long stick with a metal hook that I made from a broken sickle that has proven to be useful for pulling the canes closer rather than trying to work myself into a mass of thorns. The ripe berries come off with the slightest touch and sometimes it’s possible to just shake the cane over a bucket. Unless you’re making a wine from them you don’t want to fill the bucket too full or the berries on the bottom are crushed. The best harvest that I ever had came from a patch that had been trampled. I strolled into the middle of the broken canes and filled all my buckets in no time. I was pretty upset with whoever the other forager was for destroying such a large patch with little regard for the next guy when something happened that sent chills up my spine. My foot slipped a little and I looked down to find that I had stepped in bear scat! Needless to say that I decided not to confront the bear concerning it’s lack of etiquette.
A secondary harvest that most people overlook is the bramble leaves. Collecting the leaves and curing them out for teas. The real secret to any wild tea is the steeping time. About five minutes is recommended for brambles. Bramble leaves are rich in tannins and can become a little bitter if steeped for too long or in water that’s too hot. Herbalists do use a strong bramble leaf tea to treat certain types of diarrhea and the leaves have antimicrobial agents that is said to make them useful for treating certain infections. The leaf is also used for making a skin wash for acne. But as always, please remember that I am not a trained herbalist and that my Forage Friday posts are just talking points.
I have successfully transplanted wild brambles to a place closer to my home. They prefer partial sun and soil that gets plenty of water but that drains well. The wild varieties don’t really seem to be bothered by diseases but the presence of hickory, walnuts or pecans are a death sentence. Trees from the juglandaceae family secrete a poison that kills out the competition.
I have tried to provide a quick and simple start on foraging brambles and Friday has almost ended so I’m going to end the article here and make plans for buying some vanilla ice cream to go with the harvest on the edge of my yard.
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