We went to Union Gardens again yesterday. I was after boysenberries as they are one of Ron's favorites, and I like them alot too. After a few years in Portland, I am getting to know my berries. Some are definitely easier picking than others, but so far, I would rate the boysenberry as one of the hardest to pick, or at least to pick well. More on that below. Orion stayed home with Ron this time, and I had Akasha on my back in the Ergo, so it was a peaceful time, and I had a chance to think about the whole berry picking experience in general. I started to think it would be fun to come up with a list of suggestions.
Watch where you are stepping. Most places I have picked are not like super groomed gardens. There are usually other plants growing, often of the poky variety. There is also often clover, which means bees. One place I picked also sells honey, and the aisles were full of clover, probably on purpose. It was a neat use of space; luckily, I like bees.
Keep your hand under the berry! I have lost so many perfect berries coming at them from the side. The best ones fall right off, so if your hand isn't in the right place, and they fall down into the bush, you are probably out of luck.
Do lots and lots of tasting. :) How else are you going to find out which are the perfect berries or each type?
Pay attention to the weather. If it is a really sunny day, take a hat. It gets hot quickly. And bring water!
If the berries seem sparse, go to the end of the row (wherever is farthest away from the entrance).
If you want to get a large amount of berries, it is probably better to use the flats than the pails so the bottom ones don't end up all squished. Yes, it is much easier to carry the pail, so your choice. I was planning on jam anyway, so wasn' t that important to me.
Did I mention to eat lots of berries, to keep your strength up... yeah.
About the boysenberry:
Ah, where to start. See, the raspberry is easy picking. If it comes off easily, chances are it is going to be yummy. There are some that are overripe and starting to get a little funky, but those are usually easy to spot. The boysenberry, on the other hand, seems to have a very small window of being yummy. The underripe ones are quite tart, and the overripe ones lose their flavor very quickly. But oh, the perfect boysenberry is worth looking for. They are so bursting with their own distinctive flavor when you get it just right!
The basic things to look for are really dark color, plump and shiny.
First off, the berry should be really dark. If there are hints of red around the top, it probably isn't ready. Of course, if you like tart berries, these are great!
They can be all the way black and plump but not shiny, and those are usually not so good. Raspberries have a matte appearance all the time, so this was something new to learn (after much tasting of course.)
There is also the sligtly deflated look, which indicates past ripe. These I thought were also not so good.
I would rather be on the slightly red and plump side of underripe than the dull side of overripe. These have a sligtly tart but still full flavor versus the dull flavor of the overripe
The pull test isn't always right! If it looks like the perfect boysenberry based on all the above, it probably is. (Also discovered by lots of tasting LOL.)
And yes I speak from experience when I say the bottom berries can get kindof squished.
My friend's daughter. Would you just look at all that berry covered cuteness!!!
Her older daughter took this one. Sweet little sweaty headed girl.