Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Harvesting Berries

How do I Know They're Ripe?

Blackberries: Blackberries will be a deep, rich color and feel full and plump. They’re best when the color goes from glossy to dull (which may only take a couple of days, so stay alert). Blackberries will come off the bush easily and taste sweet and juicy. Blackberries do not ripen after they’ve been picked and won’t last long in the refrigerator, but they freeze extremely well, so refrigerate what you need immediately and freeze the rest.

Blueberries
Blueberries: Select plump, full blueberries with a light gray-blue color. They should feel firm to the touch. A berry with any hint of red isn't fully ripened, although it has a chance of ripening if kept at room temperature. White and green colored blueberries will not ripen after they are picked. Blueberries ripen in bursts, so the same bush will need to be harvested several times.

Since blueberries hang on the bushes in bunches, the easiest and fastest way to pick them is hold a container under them in one hand and with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers.  The ripe berries will drop into your bucket, while the unripe ones will remain attached to the bush.

Raspberries: Look for a plump, consistently colored berry (either red, golden or blackish-blue). Ripe raspberries may dull a bit in color when ripe (like blackberries). They should pull from the bush easily, without the green caps still attached. Raspberries do not continue to ripen after being picked, so harvest carefully. Raspberries mold in a short time when left at room temperature, so refrigerate them as soon as possible. Raspberries are extremely delicate; when ready to use, wash them gently and eat or freeze.

Strawberries: Lift strawberries gently and examine all sides of the berry for color. Ripe berries develop an even deep red hue on all sides. Harvest only after the green has completely disappeared. Mature strawberries feel slightly soft. If firm or hard, the berry isn’t ripe. To harvest, pinch the berry off the stem but avoid pulling it off the hull, or stem and leaf cap, which causes the strawberry to rot more quickly.

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