How to pick/pack raspeberries for market?

2ajsmamaJuly 15, 2011

Hi everyone, I've been picking wild red raspberries, I try to pick ripe but not soft, but by the time I get them in the house, pick through them, and then pack them in pint containers (saved from grape tomatoes bought at the grocery store), they are a little soft and I didn't think the 1 lb out of 4 lbs that were firmer would make it to market that night, not even in a cooler. Definitely not sitting out on a table.

So am I picking too ripe, do I have to pick and pack as I go along (and hope people don't complain about a stray leaf or bug?), cool right away? Blackberries and black raspberries don't seem this bad, though I haven't sold at market before anyway. If I still have raspberries next week I'd like to try to sell them - my veggies went in late this year so I have had *nothing* to bring to market and it started the beginning of June!


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I pick them directly into the containers they will be sold in. For raspberries that is 1/2 pints, for blackberries and strawberries pint containers. Years ago a former CSA member of ours made us wooden hods to carry the berry boxes so they can be more easily picked into.

You really want to avoid moving the berries from box to box. You do not want to pick under ripe berries. if you are not selling the fruit within 18 hours it needs to go into refrigeration ASAP other wise it will start to mold/rot within 24 hours at around 60F (faster if the temp is higher)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 7:19AM
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Thanks - next market isn't til Wed, I have to get some more boxes (I have 4-5 pint clamshells from grape tomatoes). I picked into a small bucket with a handle (easier), then poured into large shallow clamshells (from Campari tomatoes - my earliest won't be ripe for another 2 weeks so we're still buying!), put them on top of a freezer pack in cooler. I think I got 3-4 lbs today. They went into the fridge as soon as I walked in the door. We'll see how they are tomorrow, though I will either freeze or make jam out of these.

What do you do about debris and the occasional stink bug if you pick right into containers?

Are there certain varieties that "ship" better? DH was wondering how they can even sell them in stores b/c they are so fragile. Ours are wild (or were planted decades ago and have gone wild).


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 5:31PM
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we have containers that we put the bad ones into. All raspberries are highly perishable that is why they must be refrigerated or else they last less than 48 hours. If kept cold they should last about 10 days if they are dry when picked. The black raspberries we sell last as long as the domestic red raspberries

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Where do you buy your half pint containers that you sell the rasberries in? Also once you pick your rasberries do you wash them with cold water and then put into the fridge to preserve them or no washing?

I'm growing them in a poly tunnel and they are organic, I will be selling them at markets and to local shops. Any help greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance


    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 4:20PM
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Picking wild is different than the tame varieties. If the berries fall off in your hand when you touch them, they are ripe and ready.

We pick in ice cream buckets, no more than 2-3" deep (a shallow bucket works well with a bale). If you can attach the bale to your belt, it will leave both hands to pick. I always pick with my hand under the berry, so many drop when barely touched.

We then rinse lightly, very lightly, to remove dust and hand pick any debris that we find (including those stink bugs that we get EVERY time.

Then we pack in pints (no larger). I like to use a paper towel at the bottom, just to absorb any extra moisture/drippings from the berries.

We use the plastic pints with lids, easier to see if there might be something unpleasant in the container. We used to not have the lids, and people would keep tasting, making some of the pints less than others.

We have sold wild black raspberries at markets since 2000 and have found that to sell, you need to pick the day before at the latest. Anything longer than that, the berries will become mush. It's better to jam any berry over 24 hours old.

I know that the tame berries will hold up alittle longer, put once you refrigerate them, keep them in refrigeration until sold, or they break down and get fuzzy very quickly.

The large freezer bags from WM are good for keeping the berries cool for transporting to market. A flat will fit nicely. My flat boxes will hold 12 pints.

Be sure to charge more for the wild ones, people that want them will pay for them. Wild is very different than tame ones in comparison in taste. Some people love them, others only the tame.

We prove that we've picked them by showing the battle scars. Nobody ever wants to 'help' pick.

One year, a lady paid us for her to pick. We got $14 per pound for her picking.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Wow, I just picked today, don't think anybody would pay to push their way through the thicket and pick our wild ones. Didn't weigh, but probably only 1 lb. Found a new patch on the hill near the road going down to tomato (and peppers and beans) area, lots more convenient to pick there and in the sun the berries seemed larger and firmer than the ones in the woods. I don't think I can sell them though since some were coming apart in my hand as I "rolled" them off the core. Probably jam these (even if only makes 2 jars). Killarney are a lot larger and firmer.

I don't wash the raspberries - they'll get mushy and mold in the fridge. I don't wash any berry til ready to use, and sometimes I don't wash the raspberries at all (but I do wash blackberries, they hold up better, again not til use).

Blackberry thorns are worse than the raspberries. I've got the scars to prove it! But doused my clothes, long sleeves, hat with DEET today, took LS shirt & hat off in garage, showered & washed hair and STILL found a tick on my scalp 2 hours later!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 7:26PM
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The ticks here are outrageous this year.

I rinse mine for jam immediately as soon as he comes in with, picking the debris out, then they go into Ziploc bags. I have found that if I freeze my fruit before trying to jam/jelly, I get more juice with less sugar. I barely rinsed any dusty berries, but hand picked debris, this is for marketing purposes. Sometimes I still don't get everything out.

I found my pint containers on Craigslist, but have purchased from Monte's packaging out of MI. They will ship, but the box comes as 1,000 and is rather expensive to ship. Lucy gets hers from an Amish supplier. I personally don't like the 'pulp' version for the wild ones, the berries are too moist and saturate the pulp (tried them).

We've found the first ones moister than normal. Wild berries are SO much moister than any tame berry that I've seen, one of the reasons that the stores CAN'T carry them. I've tried refrigerating them at all different temperatures and they will not keep.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:44AM
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I have never bought a container yet, and I go through over a thousand a year. All of mine are recycled. My customers save them, and the cooks at my school save them for me. I even have people who aren't customers dropping them off. People love to recycle, and I've never gotten anything but compliments for using them. Of course, I remove labels and wash them good. If you know someone in the restaurant business, I'll bet he/she could get you all you'll ever need. Our basement looks pretty sad though with all our supplies till we get a building. I've got several years' worth of them stored there--along w/bushel baskets, flats, bags, crates, and ice cream buckets, which I also go through a lot for blackberries.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Those ice cream buckets are great for LOTS of things. Plus I LOVE ice cream, shame the brand I buy for buckets doesn't taste better (like Edy's).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:23AM
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