Back to school time means many things to many people. Back east they’re taking last licks of that Summer sun, at Target they’re running specials on notebooks and fluorescent Sharpies but here in SF it means blackberries are ripe and ready for picking.
While you could pick up a pint of juicy berries for $5 at the Farmers Market, and yes, they will be delish, I prefer running up the trails at Mt. Davidson and unleashing my urban foraging self on the acres of wild blackberries that grow in the brush.
It started about 10 years ago when my now 14 year old was in kindergarten and we’d hoof it once a week back from Miraloma elementary back to our home in West Portal. There may have been shorter routes, but cutting through the paths of Mt. Davidson was way more like what Laura Ingles would have done and, well, yeah. We didn’t have a berry basket (which clearly would have been preferable, but so would a bonnet and I had to put my foot down somewhere), but instead toted a trusty Tuperware along picking as we strolled.
Sure it’s easier for 4-5 year olds to pick near the ground, but our motto was “look up so you’re not eating berries that a dog may have pee’d on.” That rule still applies. No longer are either of my kids at elementary nearby, but a quick hike over the weekend proved that back-to-school blackberries still abound. If you’ve never picked before, the key is to go for the darkest ones and take only those that come off the vine easily. When you have to pull, they’re a little less optimal, but nothing a little added sugar won’t solve.
Full disclosure. I have no idea if this is legal. But it’s fun, delicious and free. So hey, until law enforcement finds me, it’s all good. Especially on toast.