Here's How To Find (And Remove) Bugs' Larvae From Your Blackberries

'Tis the season.
imageBROKER/Willi Rolfes via Getty Images

Nothing reminds me that I’m a mere mortal mammal like the overwhelming urge to forage I get every August. Blackberries, cherries, and even some apples thrive and ripen during this month ― so it’s no wonder I’ve been bugging everyone I know to go blackberry-picking with me recently.

Sure, I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea ― the brambles, the blackberry stains, and yes, the bugs. And while I can’t help the nature of, well, nature, I can suggest some hacks for ensuring your picks are pest-free (there are no excuses, friends).

Here’s how to properly clean your blackberries ― and how to store them when you’ve debugged the bunch.

A simple rinse won’t do

I grew up picking blackberries, which means I’m all too familiar with the teeny-tiny, pale worms that often populate the fruit. These are usually the larvae of fruit flies, and are not likely to come out at first rinse because they nestle deep in the berry.

One way to provide a hostile bug environment for long enough to actually extract the worms involves submerging the entire batch of strawberries in water, perhaps with a dash of vinegar or salt added.

Delishably agree ― “Some people recommend just rinsing blackberries in a colander or a sieve to clean them. This is definitely not what I recommend because I know from experience that you can still end up with little bugs remaining and hiding in the fruit if you try to wash them this way. For a proper clean what they need is a good soak.”

How to soak the berries

The best way to banish every last bug from your berries is to:

  • Fill a bowl with tepid water, enough to cover the entire blackberry pick
  • Add a dash of apple cider vinegar or salt if desired, though this isn’t needed
  • Swirl the blackberries around like you’re washing rice
  • Remove the worms that have floated to the top (gross, I know)
  • Drain and soak again ― I do this around three times
  • Leave to air-dry in a colander or sieve
  • Spread onto kitchen rolls or clean cloths to dry.

How to store your blackberries after cleaning them

Unfortunately, blackberries have a pretty rubbish shelf life. Even if stored in a well-ventilated container in the fridge, you can’t expect them to last more than two-ish days fresh (boo).

If freezing blackberries, you’ll want to avoid packing all the berries together in a huddled mass. This can cause them to clump and stick together in a tricky-to-use chunk when frozen.

Instead, consider fully drying the berries and then flash-freezing them for a couple of hours on a baking sheet. Ensure none of them are touching each other. Then, when you freeze the berries, they should all tumble out in individual berries.

Of course, the frozen kinds are mushier and more shapeless than their fresh counterparts, so reserve these for crumbles, jams, bakes, and smoothies where the berries are less visible.

Happy picking!