Trail Cooking

Berry Picking Season

Wild berry picking season is here. It’s time to do foraging in the woods, and on the edges of sunny meadows. With us living in the Pacific Northwest, my go-to book is Northwestern Wild Berries, often set on the counter for easy grabbing.

We live on 5+ acres of woodland/fields, so we don’t have to go far to find berries. However, it’s easy enough to do on many public lands. Just research any limits (for example at one local National Park, the daily limit is 1 quart, per person) and if you need a permit. Follow sustainable methods – don’t use tools to pick, pick a few from each plant and tread gently on the land. It’s a great way to get children excited about going on nature hikes!

Tuck in a few snack size zip top bags, or small lightweight bowls/cups for easy storage of berries.

Red Huckleberries. They prefer lower forests, that are well-lit, and do well in sunny areas along the forest.

Tiny, a small bowl is priceless.

The last of the season of the Salmonberries. Look along the edges of the forest in meadows, in sunny areas, especially near water.

Thimbleberries have just started. They grow often with the Salmonberries, but come in as that season is ending.

Evergreen Huckleberries won’t ripen until late summer/early fall. These grow in the forest, even in dark, though the ones on the edge of the forest produce the most berries.

The short season of Black Caps (Black Raspberries). They are very delicate and the canes are very spiky. Learn how to wiggle your hands in to avoid the spikes, which get you when pulling out most of the time, rather than when going in. The newer canes produce the best berries. These grow in well-lit areas, especially in avalanche zones and clear cuts/meadows/fields.

Moss in the forest.

A small snack bag of hard labor. Wild berries freeze well, so you can build up your storage over the weeks. I freeze them combined (on trays) then separate once frozen. This also helps with any chaff holding on, which falls off in freezing. Otherwise eat within a few hours, as wild berries are delicate.