Blackberries 101

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The elusive bramble, also known as a blackberry, is protected on its cane plant by hundreds of thorns. The time and effort required to pick blackberries, plus their short peak season, make them quite a delicacy each summer. Once considered a wild plant simply best left for the birds, blackberries are immortalized in poems and cherished in special dishes throughout the world.

The nutritional content of blackberries is particularly beneficial, boosting your immune system, metabolism, and antioxidant levels. While most people consider the sweetness of blackberries a perfect match for a buttery baked crust, you can also explore this fruit mixed with cantaloupe and a hint of ginger and mint, reduced to a sauce to serve with pork medallions, or puréed with red wine for an elegant gelatin dessert.

Identification

Blackberries are most commonly purple-black, with many smooth juice-filled sacs in a cluster that forms each berry. Some blackberries might also be a deep red, but make sure those aren’t simply black raspberries. This fruit has a diameter similar to the tip of your thumb.

Taste

Like with most berries, finding blackberries at their sweetest is sometimes a challenge, but it’s worth the trouble. One thing to remember: choose blackberries without hulls. This means they were picked at the right time and will have mature sweetness with a hint of tartness, similar to a blueberry. If you detect a bitter aftertaste, the blackberries were picked too soon.

Availability

Fresh blackberries are readily available in major grocery stores during the peak season of late spring through early fall. Some grocers also import the fruit for additional availability. Frozen blackberries are a good alternative throughout the year, but canned blackberries often contain high-calorie syrup.

Season

In the US, blackberries are at their peak between May and July. In Europe, you’ll find them between June and October. Some grocers import blackberries off-season from locations such as South America.

Selection

Look for blackberries that are plump, with shiny skin. Make sure they don’t have hulls, which indicate they were picked too soon and will be tart.



Avoid fruit with a lot of discoloration, soft spots, or mold. If buying them in a container, tilt it from side to side and see if the berries move. If not, they might be too tightly packed, which encourages mold.

Organic Benefits

Some studies indicate that organic fruits have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised fruits.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. Blackberries don’t appear on any EWG list, but other berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, rank somewhere between the “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” lists. So if pesticide exposure is a concern for you, consider buying organic blackberries.



The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.

Storage

Blackberries are extremely delicate and perish quickly. Whether you visit a pick-your-own farm, select them at a farmers’ market, or buy them at the grocery store, plan to use them within a couple of days. Store them unwashed and free from containers, loose in a single layer on some kitchen paper in your refrigerator.



This fruit freezes well, so arrange the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen, then place in a container with a tight-sealing lid or in a zippered plastic bag.

Preparation

Simply wash fresh blackberries under a stream of cool water in a strainer or between your hands, then pat dry. Some people prefer to snip off any residual stems or hulls.



Blackberries are often best when eaten out-of-hand, but are also delicious in baked goods and preserves. You can also mix them into yogurt for parfaits.

Nutrition Summary

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. It’s needed to form collagen, which helps maintain skin, teeth, gums, tendons, and ligaments. It helps heal wounds and fight cancerous cells. It is required to form neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain, and helps minimize damage from toxins.

Manganese

The majority of the manganese in the body is stored in the bones and organ tissue, mainly the liver and kidneys. Manganese is responsible for production and maintenance of sex hormones, blood-sugar regulation, brain and nerve function, calcium regulation and absorption, and carbohydrate metabolism.


Vitamin K

Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bones. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.


Copper

A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.


B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)

An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Many powerful antioxidants lie within the delicate blackberry. In fact, blackberries rank seventh out of 100 top rated foods for total antioxidant capacity per gram. They also have ellagic acid, which is considered to contain anti-viral and anti-carcinogen properties. The high amounts of vitamin C and manganese in blackberries boost your immune system and aid metabolism, too.

Little Known Facts
  1. Blackberries are not simply black raspberries. Fellow members of the Rubus family, blackberries are fully solid with a white core, whereas raspberries are hollow inside. Blackberries are also larger than, and not as fuzzy as, black raspberries.
  2. The leaves of blackberry plants were used by Greeks and Romans for treating a variety of illnesses and for hair dye.
  3. A blackberry is sometimes referred to as a bramble because it grows on thorny, bushy plants.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.