Tasteless Blackberries?

I’m having a small Blackberry disaster. I got very excited when I saw the first Blackberries ripening and couldn’t wait to try them. Quite a few ripened at the same time and one was so ripe it dropped off the plant! So I knew it was time to start picking them.

They were so plump and juicy, and very big too. I picked a good handful of them and trotted off into the house to show them to under-gardener. Then I tasted one… um… that must have been an off one. Try another. Err…nope this one doesn’t taste good either. In fact, none of them tasted good. Not good at all. I wouldn’t say they tasted bad, no not bad, they just tasted of nothing. Yes, that was it, nothing! And, let’s face it, in reference to Blackberries, ‘nothing’ is not a good look.

I’m completely thrown. Why would my perfectly gorgeous Blackberries taste of nothing? Why, why would they do that to me? I mean, it’s not like I’ve got my jam-making equipment at the ready or anything!

I’ve wracked my brains. Is it lack of sun? Bad pollination? Rubbish variety (Bramble)? Just the way cultivated Blackberries taste? I’m clutching at straws now. The big question – should I give it another year or should I dig the blighter up and buy another, better-tasting one instead?

Anyone? Anyone?

32 Comments on “Tasteless Blackberries?

  1. i’d have thought it was a bit early for Blackberries, – Tayberries maybe, but I think your Blackberries may not have had a long enough season to develop taste, – last year in a dodgy season they didn’t start being harvestable until late August, so even though we’ve had more sun, i’d have though mid August – so don’t be too hasty, unless there are no more flowers/ forming berries left, don’t be to quick to pull them out.

  2. I don’t have experience with cultivated blackberries, but the wild ones can be tasteless if it’s too rainy during certain parts of the growing season (I can’t remember which parts!). Also blackberries are biennial, so definitely leave them in the ground this year and next to see what they do!

  3. too much rain will do this, let them ripen as long as you can – berries certainly are sensitive to the weather – peace for all

  4. That’s odd. I live in the forest of the Pacific NW and we have invasive European brambles growing wild wherever there’s enough light for them to thrive. When the berries are falling off, they are definitely beginning to ripen (some berries will ripen before others, so you have to harvest over a period). I can smell them in the air when the vines are ready for harvest. What I have discovered is that some berries are extremely tart, whereas others are sweet enough to eat out of hand. I’ve never had a tasteless one. I think more light equals more sweet.

    I suspect you have a cultivated variety (maybe a reduced thorn variety?) that’s not tasty or maybe it’s a natural mutation. Find a variety you like and get some rooted ends in spring. No point wasting space on berries that aren’t tasty.

    I do have one variety that’s to die for! It’s also wild for me (I didn’t buy it). The vine has a very lacy leaf (unlike the usual three-lobed variety) and the berries are always huge and super tasty. It’s worth planting a super stock like that, if you can find one.

  5. @Kath

    I’m north of you, on the north end of Vancouver Island, BC, and we have unlimited Himalayan blackberries growing here, as well. They grow absolutely everywhere! The Himalayan variety are much, much, better than the European ones you mentioned. Perhaps that is what you’ve got that’s producing those super-tasty ones.

    @Gillian We get a LOT of rain here, most of the year, and the berries are always incredibly tasty. Perhaps a more sun would help.

  6. I’ve noticed this before this early on in the season (I’m in the UK) – I think they need a bit more sun. However, it is sometimes the variety, and I think before giving up on these you should try cooking a few. I’ve thought for a while that some blackberries are much more suited to cooking than eating raw. Let us know if it makes any difference!

  7. I feel the same about my Tayberry. It grows beautifully and is full of huge juicy berries! I picked a few and popped them into my mouth……… nothing! I was so dissapointed. So that is one fruit bush that is going on the compost!

  8. I have a multitude of bushes, some are good, some are bad. The annoying thing is the bad bushes are consistantly bad and good bushes are consistantly good.

    When I pulled them all up this year, because of the extent of their growth I have no idea which were the good and which were the bad. Even so, I’m in the sunny south and there aren’t any ripe blackberries down here yet… maybe they’re a bit early. We’ve certainly had plenty of sun down here!

  9. I’d go with the too much rain causing it. That way you’re absolved from any personal guilt about them not being nice. It might just be they need some more sunshine. And if you don’t pick them the birds will!

  10. Wow thanks guys. Lots of good advice here. In answer to some of the questions – yes the bush does get tons of sun. It’s on a south-facing wall right next to the Peach and Grapevine.

    Here in Bath we’ve had some rain but not too much. I’d describe it as a dryish summer.

    So that leaves the variety. I don’t know much about Bramble – in truth I bought it from Homebase (don’t hate me…). So it’s possible that I just need to spend some time ordering a decent one from a fruit bush merchant.

  11. It could be the variety – I’ve only just started gardening (but have been very much inspired by your lovely site!) so I can’t offer any particularly useful gems, other than my parents are amazing gardeners and their blackberry bush is tasteless. They’ve had it for years and years and it still produces v mediocre berries. My Dad seems to think it’s because they went for a cultivated variety with no thorns on, so could that be it?? Wild ones really do seem to have so much more flavour! Me, I’m struggling to grow radishes – maybe London soil isn’t the kindest to a learner!

  12. It might be the variety. I bought a thornless blackberry a couple of years ago, only to find that the berries were pretty tasteless.

    A wild bramble grew next to it, and although the berries were much smaller (and I cut myself to bits harvesting them) the taste was incomparably better

  13. My bramble’s a Himalaya Giant and I have noticed over the past few years that sometimes it has wishywashy berries and other times tart. Certainly affects whether my bramble jelly sets or not! As a rule, I use jam sugar for bramble jelly these days. And later ones (after some rain) do tend to be larger and more insipid than the early ones.

    If you want an offshoot I’ll happily send you one, but bear in mind that Himalaya Giant was described by Bob Flowerdew as a thug which could stop a Chieftain Tank… :-)

    Wild berries are always more flavoursome, if smaller.

  14. Here in Cleveland, Ohio (US) it’s raspberry season and I had the same problem with some of my raspberries. Some were just okay tasting and some had very little flavor at all. As the season has progressed the berries have gotten sweeter and tastier. Maybe the same will happen to your blackberries?

  15. Thornless blackberries tend to have less flavour, and I think there’s something in the cultivated/wild distinction, too. I’ve never grown blackberries because I can usually find some wild ones to harvest, and they always taste fab…

  16. The only reason i can give is there a new plant [young] they tend to try to establish themselves first before giving a fruit but if theyve had to much rain they will throw out fruit because they have to much nutrients in there root system, there a little bit like strawberries on there first year. If your plant has a lot of green to it then i suggest cutting it back for next year and allow it to build up.

  17. I’m in the UK, and notice the same thing most years with the wild brambles I pick from.

    Early in the season the berries look full and ripe, fall off into my hand when I touch them, and are completely… nothing.

    Bland. Not awful, not off-tasting, just pointless. Colour but no flavour. Go back to the same bush a few weeks later and the berries are divine.

    Hopefully yours will be too!

  18. I read somewhere that the reduced-thorn-varieties often suffer from reduced taste as well. As if you’re supposed to suffer a bit to get the great berries :-)

  19. I’ve had similar problems with raspberries this year, but fruit off the same canes seem to be getting progressively sweeter as the season progresses. I’ve used the early tasteless ones for jam as I figured the sugar will cover everything up.

  20. I’m voting too much rain just before they ripen. We have the same problem with strawberries. Perhaps the next picking will be tastier.

  21. Initially it sounded like a too much rain, rapid growth, not enough heat kinda issue. But I am swaying towards having a bad variety. The proof will be if next year you have the exact same experience. If so, rip it up and get yourself a better variety. In Southwestern Ontario we have plenty of black berries and even in wet seasons there’s a good taste to them. I am strongly leaning towards having a bad variety.

    steve green
    windsor, ontario, canada

  22. I’m sure you don’t need yet another answer, but I’ll add my two cents anyway! Maybe try companion planting? My companion planting guide doesn’t include blackberries as they’re a pest here (Australia) but I’ve certainly had more flavoursome strawberries thanks to some companion planting and mulching advice (strawberries love being mulched with pine needles because it makes the soil more acidic). Perhaps another nearby plant or a different mulch will help.

  23. We’re in Wiltshire, not far from you, and I don’t think any of ours are ripe yet (or even nearly ripe). We have quite a few wild blackberries from brambles growing through the hedges bordering our garden. They usually have a very nice taste. I think perhaps it might be to do with yours ripening early, due to the recent mild weather, but not sure how you can avoid that ! Hopefully you have more growing to harvest in a few weeks time.

  24. there was too much rain or they were over watered when the flowers were out and they were being fertilized, this is what causes the fruit be tasteless. i would too try cooking them.

  25. I don’t know what has gone wrong maybe they are too early, never grown them, the wild brambes always taste lovely but they are in September usually. Maybe they need more manure or maybe it just the variety, see what happens next year.

  26. Hi

    I’ve been away so haven’t logged on for a few days. All the comments have been about blackberries but your picture is of blackcurrants which are ripe now, blackberries won’t be ready for another month or so – very confusing.

  27. Derek,
    Nice to meet a neighbor. Do look into ‘Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast’ by Pojar and MacKinnon. It’s a superb identifier for our region. The situation with blackberries is actually the other way round. The Himalayan brambles are very good (the berries tend to be big and mostly tart) for jam. But the really superb ones which also grow where I live are European, called the ‘Evergreen blackberry’ with ‘deeply incised and jaggedly toothed’ leaves. They can easily be distinguished from the familiar rounded leaflets of the common Himalayan type. When the European type are fruiting, we eat them raw, as they are consistently sweet, huge fruits.

    There are native brambles too which may be the ones you confuse with European types. They are definitely not so tasty.

  28. We planted some thornless varieties in our hedge a few years back, they are thriving and produce lots of fruit. I was concerned at the time as I had read in a book by the knowledgeable Bob Flowerdew that cultivated blackberries weren’t worth the bother, and to stick with wild ones if you can find them (to pick, not dig up and grow!).
    We’ve not found our thornless one to be tasteless, but the wild ones in the local fields are certainly more flavorsome.

  29. I live in the Puget Sound region of Washington State, and I can’t walk to your mailbox without tripping over a blackberry cane (my legs look like I’ve walked through barbed wire). We have oddly dry summers and I’ve found the wild berries (which get no water) have better flavor than my thornless cultivars — that is until I quit watering them. Unless they are wilting, I don’t water them. It seems to help in producing a more concentrated flavor. This also seems to be the case for my grapes.

    I’ve had good luck with Chester Thornless and Triple Crown and recently planted Loganberries and Marion berries which have a nice tartness along with the sweet.

    Good luck and gorgeous garden!

  30. I live on Vancouver Island and my thornless blackberry has gigantic juicy fruit on it, but they are ENTIRELY TASTELESS!!! I think the way they are cultivated lends to them being friendly to grow, but lacking in the o-so-desirable blackberry flavour. If you want flavour in your blackberries you need to tough it out with the thorney ones :(

  31. I’ve found tasteless blackberries, sickly sweet blackberries and sour blackberries. I find a fresh cultivated blackberry to be the best – usually.

    As for raspberries, I find the little wild ones are the sweetest and tastiest – albeit a little small and dry.