There are many types of edible berries in BC, but blackberries are some of the most easily identifiable (and delicious). Did you know there are actually several different kinds of blackberries that grow in coastal BC?
You may be most familiar with the invasive Himalayan Blackberry, which is often found growing up fences, along roadsides, or at edges of a wooded areas. It has long, very thorny vines that can form dense bushes, and berries that droop in clusters from the ends of these tendrils. When ripe, these blackberries are juicy and sweet with a bit of a tang, and can get fairly large (1 inch or more in diameter – yum!). Learn more about this invasive plant and its impacts here.
Native: Trailing Blackberry
The Trailing Blackberry is a native plant, and is smaller in comparison to the Himalayan Blackberry. Their berries are often no larger than the size of your thumbnail, and in an elongated shape. But don’t let the size deter you – these berries are super sweet and flavourful when ripe, definitely worth looking out for. Its greyish vines trail along the ground (hence the name) and sometimes climb a few feet up fences or other low vegetation. They can be spotted at the edge of wooded areas and near roadsides.
Invasive: Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry
The Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry originates from Europe and was brought over to North America for fruit production – it has very tasty berries that ripen from mid to late summer. And like the name suggests, its leaves are distinctively jagged. The Cutleaf Evergreen Blackberry grows in a variety of conditions, but you’ll most likely spot it in disturbed areas, along roadsides, and near riverbanks. Learn more about this invasive plant and its impacts here.
So now that you know how to find these plants, here’s some good news – they all have delicious berries ready for picking in the Sea to Sky region right now!
But before you grab your bucket and head out, here’s a few tips:
- Pick above the waist – It’s pretty likely that someone (and their dog) has been in the area before you. To avoid any potential contamination, we highly recommend that you only pick berries above the waist or in places you are certain no one else has been to.
- Make sure the bushes haven’t been treated with herbicide – the invasive Himalayan Blackberry is very difficult to control, and sometimes is treated with herbicides. Look out for signs that notify past treatments, or ask the landowner if you have concerns.
- Don’t pick from bushes next to very busy roads – Not only can it be dangerous to stand on the side of a busy road or highway, but you probably shouldn’t be consuming berries covered in car exhaust.
Happy picking! If you pick enough, you can use these berries in a refreshing Blackberry Sangria or Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake.
Check out the recipes below
Blackberry simple syrup:
1.5 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup water
2 (750ml) bottles red wine
1 cup brandy
1 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
1 cup blackberry simple syrup
4 cups lemon-lime soda
Blackberry simple syrup: In a small saucepan, heat blackberries, sugar and water over medium heat. Stir and crush blackberries with back of large spoon. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until reduced and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer to strain out blackberry seeds and pulp. Discard pulp and seeds and let syrup cool completely.
Sangria mix: Pour red wine, brandy, Chambord, and blackberry syrup in a large pitcher and stir to combine. Add blackberries, raspberries, and blood orange slices and stir. Gently pour in lemon-lime soda. Serve immediately!
Recipe by Jennifer Meyering. View the recipe card here!
Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake
6 oz. fresh or frozen blackberries
¼ cup granulated white sugar
¼ cup water
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp salted butter, melted
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Fresh blackberries and lemons, to garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Blackberry puree: In small saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar, and water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then lower heat to medium. Continue to stir every now and then for 5-8 minutes. Break up blackberries with the back of your spoon. The syrup should be thickened. Place in fridge to cool.
Graham cracker crust: Pulse crackers in a food processor (or smash them with a rolling pin) until they are very fine crumbs. Add the sugar and melted butter to the crumbs and mix. Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (not up the sides). Bake at 350°F for about 9 minutes. Set aside to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
Cheesecake filling: In a standing mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Beat on high for 3 or 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom at least twice. You want the cream cheese to get high and fluffy. Add the sour cream and beat. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating in between. Add the fresh lemon juice and beat until smooth.
Once your graham cracker crust is not too hot to touch, pour the cream cheese mixture into the pan. Smooth it out with a spatula. Use a spoon to dollop the blackberry puree all over the cheesecake. Use a sharp knife to swirl it together.
Bake at 325°F for 55-60 minutes. Keep a close eye on it toward the end. When you shake the pan, the center should jiggle slightly. Let cool for at least an hour before putting it in the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, covered. Garnish with lemons and blackberries.
We also love blackberry jam, cobbler, pie… the possibilities are endless!
You can learn more about other edible invasives found in the Sea to Sky here.