The first stage of your sloe berry “journey of discovery” has to be recognising and identify sloe berries and damsons (larger and more plumb like sloes with a very similar taste). Want to know how best to handle your sole haul? check out my post Sloe berry Splendour: Jam
This is very important as there are a significant number of berries in British hedgerows that are poisonous and the rule of “don’t eat red berries they’re poisonous” is far from true.
Sloe berries and damsons are available for picking from around August however most people wait until September/October. This has nothing to do with taste and everything to do with finding them.
In autumn the bushes leaves fall, leaving the berries open to the picker. It’s important to remember that these berries are a staple of many British birds diet and if you wait until the leaves fall you may have a battle on your hands actually obtaining a decent amount of fruit for your recipes.
The bushes local to me are huge which already limits what I can pick. Too high and I can’t reach too low and there’s the risk of inviting dog urine into the recipe, a very unwanted ingredient!! I therefore pick early to gain as much fruit as possible from my picking leaving plenty of low and high fruit behind for the birds to binge on.
Do you have any tips and/or tricks you want to share for picking sloes or other wild berries. Add into the comments and share them with us.