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Blackberry season: Pickin and grinnin
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Forsyth County News
Last week, I found the sweetest blackberry bush in Forsyth County.

Went out for a walk in the woods on a long lunch break, and there it was. Glistening, unripened red berries in the hottest patch of sunlight.

The crimson fruit was plentiful, and that’s money in the bank as far as I’m concerned. Like my own private harvest as they blacken.

The kind of harvest for which you don’t spend the season toiling. Only thing to worry about is being pricked with thorns on the “sticker bush,” as my folks used to call the fruit-yielding plant, where the berries blossom.

It brings back childhood memories. Playing in the backyard, spotting the biggest, sun-ripened fructose clumps. Wading waist-high into the sticker bushes, reaching for the bounty.

I’d come indoors from the summer heat, white T-shirt streaked with blood and blackberry juice, my mother afraid I’d been beaten by a neighborhood gang.

But you had to pay the price for the best ones. The optimal fruit did have a way of growing in the most dangerous spots.

After a while, you got the keen eye for spotting a quality blackberry. True black is what you look for, not the tiniest tinge of red or you’re in for a tart surprise.

The tiny bulbs that make up the oblong pieces of fruit should be as big as possible. The bigger the bulbs on the blackberry, the sweeter.

Test their ripeness by tugging lightly on the berry itself. If it comes off the plant with the smallest amount of effort, it’s good to go.

If you don’t see a ripe berry on the bush, walk by twice. You’re bound to catch a glimpse of one on the way back. From another angle.

They’re mostly small and red right now, but the bushes soon will bend with heavy, ripe fruit. Give it two weeks, tops.

These berries are partial to the Georgia sun, when it’s really beating down. Dog days.

Call me particular, but you can’t beat the taste of a blackberry in the blazing heat.

The sun-warmed sweetness seems to come alive as the temperatures rise.

Pretty soon, as it gets even hotter, you should be able to go find yourself a nice blackberry bush.

Next time I venture out, I’m taking a grocery bag to fill. Why not, when you stumble upon such abundance?

Frank Reddy is a staff writer for the Forsyth County News.