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Connecticut Garden Journal: When harvesting berries, timing is everything

Knowing when to harvest berries is key to getting the tastiest, sweetest fruits.
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Knowing when to harvest berries is key to getting the tastiest, sweetest fruits.

It's berry season. Whether you're growing your own or harvesting berries at a pick your own farm, knowing when to harvest the berries is key to getting the tastiest, sweetest fruits. So, let's talk about harvesting some popular and unusual berries.

First of all, become familiar with the type of berry and variety. Some berries mature to different colors making it important to know what to look for in the berry patch. For example, raspberry fruits can be red, yellow, purple or black, depending on the type.

Strawberries are mostly finished producing, so let's start with raspberries. When picking, wait until the color is solid across the whole berry and the fruits come off the plant with just a gentle tug.

Blueberries are producing right now as well. You'd think it's easy to know when to pick a blueberry, but many people harvest too soon. Wait until the berry is blue all around to harvest. However, I've found that even if you pick a little early, it's okay. We leave blueberries at room temperatures for a day after harvest and I swear they get sweeter.

Blackberries are a bit easier to tell when ripe. They should be black, of course, but they should also come off the plant with a gentle tug. If they resist, check again tomorrow.

Wait until elderberries are plump and black, and then harvest the whole umbel with scissors for making juice, jelly and wine. Currants can be red, white, pink or black. I cup my hand under a group of berries and gently tickle them with my fingers. Ripe berries drop off easily.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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