I have always had this dream of harvesting fruit from the wild and making gifts for my friends and family. I had so many Sedona engagement session this year, that I got to watch the Prickly Pears ripen. I was so excited, because I usually miss them at peak picking time! But of course, prickly pears are not enough for me. I also wanted to harvest black berries! I mean, prickly pear and blackberry jelly; how amazing does that sound?! So, my husband and I planned a berry picking/prickly pear harvesting date in a location where we knew there was berries and pears.
Stop 1: The Desert
It is still pretty hot in the desert in September, so we decided to harvest prickly pears first. I had done all my research online on how to harvest them without hurting yourself. I had my tub to put them in, my tongs to grab them, and gloves because you can never be too safe. We drove down a dirt road to a little pull off where we knew there was a ton of pears. And oh were there ever.
We walked down the trail, going from cactus to cactus, pulling off the ripest, largest prickly pears we could find. I made sure to leave a few prickly pears on each cactus for the critters to eat. My husband and I had an absolute blast. We were not sure how many we needed, so we filled the bin about half full. I figured that would make me at least one batch of jelly with a little extra for just incase.
Stop 2: The Creek
If you know anything about black berry bushes in Arizona, you know they grow next to creeks. So we walked down the creek searching for black berry bushes. We kept running into grape vines (yep, these grow wild in Arizona too), then we finally hit the berry bushes. But, where were the berries? Some pink ones here. Some pink ones there. But not much. Then, we noticed that some of the berry bushes had died. Finally, we managed to scrounge up 5 blackberries. Five!
Maybe people that were swimming at the creek at all of those. Or maybe the deer got to them before we could. So, we tried another creek to see if there were any berries there. Same story, different creek. We decided that either we were too early, or it was a bad black berry year. I mean, we did not get a ton of rain this summer.
We ate the five blackberries and went home for some In and Out and to make prickly pear jelly. We decided we would try again next year to harvest blackberries for blackberry/prickly pear jelly! You can hear about my adventure making the jelly here.