Instructions for picking
1. Clean your equipment
- When picking berries, use equipment suitable for foodstuff use: buckets, picking rakes and transfer boxes.
- Make sure your equipment is undamaged, clean and dry. No smells or flavours must be transmitted from the equipment to berries. No coating or other such fragments must be transmitted from the equipment to berries, either.
- After storing and berry picking, wash your equipment by hand. Remember to also wash the rakes and bucket lids. Machine wash is another alternative, excluding rakes and equipment with metal, wooden or textile parts. They are always washed by hand, as they don't endure machine wash.
After wash, rinse the equipment under running hot water and drain until dry. Instead of using a textile towel, it is better to drain the equipment dry or use a clean disposable cloth. Avoid touching the inner surface of the equipment. Draining racks or equipment must not be placed on the floor. Wet equipment must also not be piled. Make sure the equipment are completely clean and dry (remember to check bottoms, as well).
Close the containers so that they remain clean when going to the forest. Take along some disinfective hand towels for cleaning your hands.
Plastic bags and other such bags are not suitable picking or transfer containers, as soft-rinded berries will easily crush in them. Broken containers and containers used for other than foodstuff purposes are not suitable picking containers. Garden gloves are not clean enough for berry picking.
2. Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands thoroughly before going to the forest and before you start picking. Use warm water and soap, rinse well and dry your hands with a clean towel. Remember to wash your nail beds, between your fingers and the back of your hand. Remove rings, jewels and watches and keep your nails short.
It's time to take a break when you must go to the toilet, smoke, cough, sneeze or blow your nose. Always wash your hands after these procedures and other breaks, as well.
Clean your hands with a disinfective cloth if no other chance for washing exists.
There must be no nail polish, hand cream or insect repellent in your hands.
Attend to wounds carefully. If you have wounds or plaster in your hands, use protective gloves. Protective gloves must be changed often.
- Nose, hair or skin must not be scratched while picking.
- Avoid unnecessary touching of berries.
- Do not enter the forest if you are ill.
3. Use Protective Clothing
- Use long-sleeved blouses and trousers as well as a headgear or hood in order to be better protected from insect bites.
If you use insect repellent, make sure it is not transmitted into your hands, picking equipment or berries.
- Close your pockets carefully so that no pens, handkerchiefs or other small items fall among picked berries.
4. Choose a Clean Picking Place
Berries must not be picked from road sides, industrial or residential areas or close to cultivated land. Before you start picking berries, take 50 steps (25 m) from a smaller sandy road and 100 steps (50 m) from an active-traffic road or a yard towards the forest. The picking area must also be beyond the visual range of any yard.
- Berries must not be picked in fertilized areas, as fertilizers increase the nitrate content in berries.
- Berries must also not be picked in pesticide-treated areas due to possible toxic residue in berries.
Keep the picking area clean and cosy: bring back all items you took with you to the forest.
5. Pick Ripe Berries and Ensure Their Cleanliness
Identify the berries you picked and learn to distinguish them from similar-looking berries, for example
- Berries similar to the lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) include the bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and the poisonous Eurasian dwarf cornel (Cornus suecica).
- Berries similar to the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) are the crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) and the poisonous herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia).
- The Arctic bramble (Rubus arcticus) is similar to the stone bramble (Rubus saxatilis).
Pick only ripe berries. Ripe berries come loose easier, endure picking better and are tastier.
Pick only one berry quality at a time.
Develop a calm picking style; berries are picked quickly with little leaf matter. Pick when the weather is dry. Wet berries gather a lot of rubbish and they spoil more easily. Wait for the berry shrubs to dry after the rain.
Do not include sand, small stones, twigs, animal excrement or pieces of mushroom among the berries. When using a rake with a stem, be extra careful.
- Hold the bucket still and protected and collect the berries close by with a rake. The less you move the bucket along with you, the more solid the berries remain.
- Avoid unnecessary pouring of the berries from one bucket to another, as berries crush easily.
- Handle berries in such a way that they remain as solid and clean as possible. Berries do not endure pressing, for example.
6. Ensure Cleanliness of the Transfer Space and Transfer the Berries to the Selling Place without Delay
- Picked products are to be transported in a covered transport space only. For example, trailers must be hooded.
- The condition and cleanliness of the transport space surfaces are checked before transport.
- A sufficient protection of picked products during transport is secured.
Transfer berries to the selling place in the picking buckets without delay. Cover the buckets with a clean lid during transfer. Berries must not be kept in a closed container for long, as they do not preserve well in an airless space. Make sure the car's transfer space is clean and odourless.
Do not keep oil or petrol cans, chainsaw or any such item transmitting foreign odours or flavours into berries.
- Foodstuff with strong odours must not be transferred in the transfer space for berries.
- Pets must not be transferred in the transfer space for berries.
- Transfer boxes with lids, designed for foodstuff use, are suitable for transfer.
- Support the transfer boxes, when necessary, to prevent them from falling.
- When you drive carefully, berries remain solid and containers don't fall during transfer.
7. Keep Berries in a Cool and Airy Space Overnight
- Deliver berries for sale as soon as possible after picking.
- Keep berries in a clean cold storage (cellar or fridge) in +4 / +8 °Celsius if you must hold them until the next day due to e.g. long distances.
- Use clean and undamaged containers suitable for foodstuff use, such as plastic buckets. However, do not solidly close the bucket lids for a long time but keep them in an airy space. The best containers are low boxes or baskets in which berries are not in thick layers.
- Protect berries from humidity, dirt and mechanical damage.
- Do not freeze berries as berries frozen in a household freezer cannot be sold.
Keep in an airy space in +4 / +8 °C overnight
Make sure berries are not in the same space with items or products transmitting foreign odours or flavours.
Remember to follow the instructions in section Wash Your Hands if you clean berries for selling them fresh. Pin your hair back and cover it with protective headgear. Use clean clothing.
- Make sure your tools and containers are clean, suitable for foodstuff use and undamaged.
- Make sure there are no disturbing factors in the work environment (animals, insects, dust, dirt).
When selling berries to a first buyer, catering service or retailer, the buyer will need certain information from the picker:
- picker’s name
- the municipality's name the berries are collected from
According to legislation, this information is necessary for determining the origin and traceability of berries. The buyer may convey the information provided by you only to Food Agency officials in context with a control. If you sell berries directly to consumers, provide the customer with the same information when asked.