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Plump blackberries are water balloons, not sweet

Unfortunately, most of the local farmer's market where I live are closing up for the season or I have a craving for produce when they are not open. Recently, I have noticed that the blackberries in the store are very plump with literally only 8-10 berries per pint, but are like water balloons - full of water with no hint of sweetness whatsoever. I know that in general a lot of people avoid store-bought, imported fruit, but I have had OK luck with apples, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, etc. Also, I have never encountered this problem with store-bought blackberries before and in general they have been flavorful, sweet and tart. Is it just time to admit that blackberry season is over even though they are imported (most seem to be from Guatemala by the way if that means anything, as in perhaps they have year round season) and move on to other fruits for the fall/winter?


Blackberry lover in distress

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  1. I've only ever bought supermarket blackberries and have no clue where they were grown, but I gave up on them years ago because they had very little flavor of any kind, nor were they sweet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greygarious

      Good to know it's not just me though such a bummer as I love blackberries

    2. Well... we have had similar experiences and since we mostly buy in season fruit and vegetables at local farms I can't blame the supermarkets. These farms practice either organic growing methods or Integrated Pest Management so I'd expect the berries, especially, to be sweet and juicy. The strawberries and raspberries are, the blueberries were but the blackberries were horribly sour and very seedy. I have no idea why this is, but can only guess it's the variety of berry they are growing. I'll have to ask...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Yea, I've noticed it's particularly bad this year - large plump berries with tons of seeds and tons of water

        1. re: Gio

          Most thornless blackberries are tarter than most thorny (normal) blackberies and mature later. You can pretty much count on the thornless type being sour but no more seedy than others. Blackberries are quite sensitive to soil moisture levels while approaching ripeness. Rainfall and irrigation practices are important so large berries for a particular variety are likely to be watery while small berries for the same variety are likely to have more concentrated flavor and a higher proportion of seeds to fruit volume. Unless you grow the berries yourself or have a good relationship with a farmer, you will not know what variety you are eating.

          The drought and hot summer made for some very good blackberries in southwestern Michigan this year with the season starting and ending several weeks early. As usual the later berries were too tart to eat plain while the midseason berries were delightful to eat unadorned.

        2. On my way to the local apple orchard yesterday, I stopped at one of our large markets for dried fruits and noticed the attached berry farm was still in operation for the end of season. I picked four lbs of blackberries and after enjoying a bowl this morning with soft goat cheese and honeycomb would be hard pressed to settle for the "water" filled orbs that pass for blackberries at the big box stores...no matter the price.

          The sweet smell of fall was a bonus!

          3 Replies
          1. re: HillJ

            So lucky, I wish I had this option and yes the "water" filled orbs are definitely a let down. I guess it's just hard for me to finally give up on them, but given as they are now upwards of $5 a pint perhaps I should use that money for something else.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Another idea...buy really good quality blackberry jam and enjoy it on all sorts of comforting foods or buy blackberries frozen.

            2. re: HillJ

              Wow. What a combination. I'm putting that on my list for next summer!!!

            3. I had some very large, but flavorful blackberries from Monterey Market in Berkeley very early in the season. Generally, I have found that berries bought at grocery stores have nowhere near the flavor of farmers market berries. Best of all are wild berries, which I happen to have in my backyard but grow all over the Bay Area.

              1. I gave them up many years ago when I no longer could go out in the woods and pick them from the fallen tree stumps they were winding themselves around.
                There never was/never has been anything like them, sadly.
                The ones friends have purchased at local farmer's markets taste like weird perfume.

                1. How disappointing. They're absolutely my favourite fruit and I'm fortunate to get the best of Scottish and English crops here in late July and August.

                  1. Not sure what the problem is with those store blackberries, but as a person, who basically grew up in a briarpatch, the size of the berry did not equate to the taste. For us, the giant berries, and the ones with maybe only 10 "kernels" tasted great - sweet, and flavorful. We harvested the wild berries from about May, until October, though after Sept., the "pickings" were wearing thin.

                    Now, these berries grew in a well-drained, sandy soil, but with plenty of rain, and also much sunshine. Most "harvests" were so sweet, that we did not, and could not, add any sugar.

                    Sorry that you are now getting "photogenic" blackberries, that are not worth eating. We see similar with strawberries. After we grew our own (just in time for Wimbledon), we are very critical of them, should they NOT be great.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Yup, for some reason I convinced myself to give it another shot today...berry #1 so sour I puckered, berry #2 water balloon explosion...I think I might need blackberry rehab, I just can't stop :)

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Don't worry about rehab, just keep eating them. Sounds like you are having a berry good time.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Haha, exactly the opposite. Berry #1 = not good so I convince myself it's a dud, then berry # 2 = not good...proceed to toss berries or pawn off on someone else knowing this has been the quality for months has not convinced me to save my wallet :)

                    2. I think I am officially out of raspberry and blackberry season in Maryland but my local grocery store still tempts me with berries from Mexico and Guatemala. Anyone opinions now that the season here is over perhaps it has picked up at warmer locales and so the berry selection is better than I found over the summer?

                      1. This time of year they are bitter and like water balloons. If you buy when they are in season (summer) then you are more likely to find flavorful plump berries. If you want really good commercial blackberries, in season you can get Driscoll's Season's Finest. Otherwise, I do tend to buy from a couple of local buyers at farmer's market. I had to chase my husband away from the berry table at the market last night because they are just intolerable this time of year. I would stick with apples, pears, and holiday grapes if you want good fruit. Honey Crisps are really good right now. French butter pears are great if you can find them.