What do youngberries taste like?

In all my life I have never tasted any fruit more delicious than the youngberry (and related blackberry varieties). This is why I go to the trouble of growing them, along with the fact that berries are expensive to buy from the supermarket. Youngberries are best eaten when the fruit has lost its redness and it has no red glow when lit from behind, and the fruit is a dull purplish-black in appearance. At this point of ripening the fruit has a complex and rich fruity flavour with elements that are a bit like a toasty or toffee flavour. Eaten when still a bit red the fruit can be tart with a raspberry-like flavour. When over-ripe the fruit softens and might become paler in colour and has a flavour a bit like ripe banana.

The fruits can be frozen to eat later, but they are best eaten as fresh as possible, which is nicely timed because this plant’s fruiting season in Perth is in December to January, just in time to yield some most delightful berries to top a pavlova, trifle or cheesecake in a Christmas feast. The fruits can become soggy when washed. I think refrigerating the berry impairs the flavour, but I might be imagining this.

Unlike many other types of fruit, insects aren’t usually much of a problem as pests attacking youngberries. Remove and destroy any snails that you find in the vicinity as they can make a mess of fruits. On the very odd occasion you might find fruit fly larvae, but I wouldn’t worry too much about this. A bird net thrown over the bramble is definitely a good idea during the fruiting season. This can be bought by the metre at a reasonable price from a hardware shop, and will last for years. Shingleback or bluetongue lizards might like to eat low-hanging fruit. Who can blame ’em?

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