What To Do With All Those Blackberries

by Linda Martin

Blackberry bushes

Blackberry leaf iced-tea is a popular summertime drink. This plant also has safe and effective medicinal properties.

Rubus villosus

Also known as: bramble, cloudberry, dewberry, goutberry, high blackberry, thimbleberry

Our rocky hill is covered with blackberry bushes – the Klamath River Valley in Northern California abounds in them – and yet I have learned they are not naturally indigenous to this area. My research shows they are native to the northern and middle states, however they have inundated our town. When we moved here we put paths through the massive bramble patches to make picking easier, and tore out some of the bushes in the process. There are so many blackberries, nobody is complaining. They looked like they hadn’t been pruned in years and needed a heavy hand.

Blackberries do fine in dry or sandy areas, but also like rich soil and will appreciate compost and lots of sunshine. We experimented with watering the berries and decided that the unwatered berries were doing better. Berry bushes in shade or partial shade produced more than bushes in full sunshine, where often the berries dried up before they were completely ripe.

Roping these thorn-covered berry bushes in with a trellis or tie-backs not only protects berry pickers but also guards the safety of the plants, especially through the winter. Weed as much as possible and mulch during winter. Prune after berry-picking season is ended. Blackberries, like roses, must be pruned to thrive.

To harvest:

Leaves must be used fresh cut (immediately) or dried thoroughly before use. Do not use if only partially dried! If used fresh, use twice as much as you would of the dried herb. Roots are also harvested for medicinal use. Clean them thoroughly and dry completely before using.

Traditional medicinal uses:

Bleeding Gums: chew fresh leaves

Diarrhea: well-known remedy; use a tea of leaves or a decoction of roots.

Hemorrhoids: same as for diarrhea.

Mouth Ulcers (Canker Sores): drink tea or chew fresh leaves

Sore Throats: drink tea

Blackberry leaves contain vitamin C, flavonoids, tannins and ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is anti-carcinogenic. Both leaves and berries are highly astringent. A tea of the leaves is a good tonic.

I tried chewing the leaves. They are a bit prickly at first but otherwise pleasant tasting.


Astringent: An agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges.

Tonic: An agent that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism.



For tea, I choose the freshest, cleanest leaves I can find. Use eight teaspoons chopped fresh leaves for each cup boiled water or use four teaspoons dried leaves for each cup boiled water. To make the tea using fresh leaves, use twice as much, and use them immediately upon picking. Semi-dry leaves should never be used. Steep 20 minutes. I like this tea quite a bit – it needs no sweetener to be delicious hot or cold.


This will extract the bitter principles and mineral salts of the plant more than vitamins. Boil about 1/2 ounce blackberry root per cup of water. Use an enamel pot (non-metallic). Boil 10 minutes, then cover and steep about 10 minutes more. Strain and store in the refrigerator. This would be used as a medicine, given by the spoonful, not as a tea. Blackberry root is a well-known, time-honored remedy, and I’ve never heard of anyone being harmed by it. Nevertheless, use caution, using only a small amount, especially if you are using the herb for the first time. Moderation is needed; too much of anything can be harmful.

Some basic information on making jam

Jam is a crushed fruit preserve made with sugar, thickened, and stored in jars. Jam is usually thickened with pectin, a natural vegetable substance that creates jelly when combined with sugar and acidic fruit. Blackberries are one of several fruits that can produce enough natural pectin to be able to eliminate store-bought pectin, but to do so you would have to boil the fruit much longer and add a few under-ripe berries as they contain more pectin.

To prepare jars: clean them, and then place them in a kettle, covering jars and lids with hot water. Heat to a boil, then leave them covered and warm until they are needed.

Jam that will be kept longer than two months must be sealed with paraffin or put in specially sealed canning jars. Canning jars are filled to the top. The rim is wiped clean and then the seals are placed on while hot. The metal rim is then screwed on tightly and the jar allowed to cool on a metal rack.

To seal with paraffin: Heat the paraffin in a double boiler. Fill jars up to 1/2 inch from the top, and immediately cover with a 1/8″ layer of paraffin. Prick any air-bubbles to get rid of them, and be sure all the jam is covered.

Blackberry Jam – with powdered pectin

2 quarts delicious, ripe blackberries
7 cups sugar
One ‘1+3/4’ oz box powdered pectin
Wash the berries and crush them well.
If you prefer less seedy jam, sieve half of the crushed berries to remove seeds.

In a sauce pan, combine 4 cups crushed berries with the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil.
Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat and stir in the powdered pectin.
For five minutes you will need to skim off the foam. Between skimmings, stir some more.
Fill hot sterilized jars and seal.
Makes about 4 pints.
Optional: If you prefer a more tart jam, replace 1/4 cup of the berries with 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Blackberry Jam – no cooking needed, with liquid pectin

2 cups very ripe blackberries, about 1 quart
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 bottle liquid pectin
Crush the berries
Strain 1/2 of them if desired, but if you do, add one more cup of berries.

Put berries in a large bowl and mix with the sugar.
Combine pectin and lemon juice, and then stir them into the berries.
Stir for about three minutes.
Pour into glasses or freezer jars, cover tightly and let stand 24 hours.
Store in freezer up to one year, or 3 weeks in refrigerator.
Makes 3 pints.

Blackberry Cobbler

5 cups fresh blackberries
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
Unbaked pastry crust (enough to cover)

Wash berries and put in 10″x6″x2″ pan. Mix the sugar, flour and salt together and sprinkle over the berries to sweeten and thicken the cobbler. Dot with butter, roll the pastry crust 1/8″ thick and cover, pressing down the edges with your fingers or a fork. Cut vents in the crust to allow steam to escape. Bake 30 minutes in a 425-degree oven, until the crust is golden brown. You will not regret it!

Author’s disclaimer – read this!

I am not a doctor, health practitioner, or licensed anything. All I do is read books, experiment, and write about things I’ve researched in this way. Please use common sense in using herbs – using only a very small amount when you first use a new herb. You may be allergic to it, for goodness sakes! So go slow. If it helps, you can use more if you are sure it is safe to do so. Herbs are medicinal in nature and you need to know how it will affect you before using a whole lot. I myself have found some herbs dangerous to me – for example, one tea I tried reacted badly to a doctor-prescribed medicine I always use, and I cannot drink that herb tea at all. Do be careful, but enjoy the herbs God has set upon the earth for us to use.

Pharmacy Celebrates 20 Years With Contest

The Clinic Pharmacy Pill Jar The Clinic Pharmacy has been serving Happy Camp for twenty years now, so owners Patt and Michael Celayeta are celebrating with a contest. Simply guess how many pills are in the jar, and if your guess is closest to the actual number, you can win a 5 CD changer stereo system. Entries are limited to one per day per person, and must be completed at the Clinic Pharmacy, 64012 Hillside Road, Happy Camp. The contest will continue until the end of August 2001.

Creating a Vision for the Future

Over 100 Happy Camp citizens met at the Family Resource Center on July 24, 2001 to discuss the future of our town. Sponsored by the Karuk Community Development Corporation (KCDC), the meeting was led by Scott Clements of Clements Partners, LLC, a consulting firm from Portland, Oregon that facilitates financial projects and negotiations for Native American and public-private ventures.

The focus of the town meeting was to design a plan for sustainable economic development in the Happy Camp area. We were asked to imagine our town as we would like to see it in ten or twenty years, and focus on projects to create a new prosperity here. KDCD has recently received an economic development grant and wanted community discussion on ways to put the funding to good use.

Assisting Mr. Clements were his wife, Myrna Clements, who works with him doing grant writing and securing funding, and Sharon Neilsen of Neilsen’s Group of Portland, who helps with housing and human service projects.

Mr. Clements explained the process of goal setting, deciding on priorities, and creating a plan of implementation. After his introductory talk and a brief question and answer session, the crowd broke up into groups to discuss various aspects of economic development such as health care, recreation, retail and special events. Local teenagers created their own group to make suggestions for improving facilities for youth.

After working in groups for about half an hour, the meeting was reconvened so group representatives could present their group’s list of suggestions.

At the close of the meeting we had an outstanding community dinner. The food here keeps getting better and better!

Happy Camp Children’s Fair, 2001

A fair for children was held at River Park in Happy Camp on July 14, 2001.

Children enjoyed fun activities like face painting, drawing Bigfoot pictures, and ring toss.

One of the attractions was a petting zoo with llamas and miniature horses from Little Dreams Ranch.

A girl with a miniature horse
A girl waits patiently as the hungry miniature horse enjoys the fresh, green lawn.
Nearby, a crowd gathers to see llamas at the Children’s Fair petting zoo in River Park.

Bigfoot Appears Again

An amazing Bigfoot is about to rise up out of the junk pile in the Forest Service parking lot. Sculptor Ralph Starritt, famed for transformation of junk into works of art, was in town on July 13 and 14 for the start of the Bigfoot project.

Local citizens have contributed junk metal to the project, organized by Carol Wainwright of Happy Camp. Keep an eye on the Forest Service parking lot this summer as Bigfoot grows in stature.

Ralph Starrit and Bigfoot
Renowned sculptor Ralph Starritt adds another piece of junk metal to Happy Camp’s new Bigfoot project on Saturday afternoon.

Donations are still being accepted

Metal donations are still welcome in the Forest Service rear parking lot. Any volunteer sculptors in town can participate in the building of Bigfoot. Monetary donations are needed for supplies, equipment and Mr. Starritt’s lodging and other expenses while he is in town. Donations are tax-deductable and can be mailed to “HCAP Bigfoot Project” P.O. Box 640, Happy Camp, CA 96039. Donations have already been received from Frontier CafĂ©, Evans Mercantile, Clinic Pharmacy, Happy Camp Elementary School and the U.S. Forest Service.

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