The blackberry is a well known shrub that is commonly referred to as a bramble in the U.S. and in Europe. Botanically however, it is not really a berry but an aggregate fruit made of numerous drupelets.
Blackberries are found in Asia, Europe, North and South America and also in Australia. Blackberries have been used in Europe for hundreds of years as hedges, for medicinal purposes as well as for eating.
Blackberries are usually ready to eat by June in the Southern parts of the U.S, and by July in the North. Ideal spring conditions and early summer weather ensure a good crop.
All about blackberry
The blackberry is an aggregate fruit that is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes. The fruit is very dark purple with smooth, fragile skin. In the middle of the cluster is a greenish-white core that extends to almost the bottom of the berry. Blackberries can be easily confused with raspberries, but raspberries (including black raspberries) have a hollow center. Blackberries are red and hard when they are immature and turn black and shiny when they ripen.
Always choose plump, firm and unblemished berries. The fruit should be shiny and black and not a dull red. Ripe berries have a rich aroma. Check carefully for mouldy fruit if the berries are being sold in a container.
Blackberries are extremely perishable and should be refrigerated immediately after purchase. They should not be frozen, unless they are intended for use in jellies and jams. Blackberries should not be washed until needed. Blackberries should only be kept for 1 - 3 days in a refrigerator and consumed as soon as possible after purchase.
To prevent blackberries sticking together when freezing them, place them individually on a cookie sheet till they freeze and then put them in a sealable plastic bag.
How to eat
Blackberries are best when eaten fresh but can also be used in cakes, cheesecakes, pies, crumbles, trifles, tarts, tortes, ice creams and pancakes. They can also be used for making jams, jellies and preserves.
Blackberry and health
Blackberries are full of antioxidants and are very beneficial to health. Antioxidants help to slow the ageing process by fighting diseases that are related to old age such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and other age related disorders. They also neutralize free radicals, which damage DNA molecules and lead to cancer and fight the damage caused by the sun to the skin. Blackberries rate amongst the top ten foods containing the highest antioxidant levels.
Some of the additional antioxidants that can be found in blackberries are vitamin C and vitamin E, and ellagic acid; all of which provide protect the body against cancer. Cooking does not destroy ellagic acid, which means that even jams, jellies and desserts retain the goodness of blackberries. Blackberries are also a natural source of salicylate, a substance found in aspirin. It might be advisable for people who are sensitive to aspirin to exercise some caution in eating them. The numerous tiny seeds found in blackberries are a source of soluble fibre.
Berries are believed to produce health benefits for women as they contain high concentrations of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens (which literally means “plant estrogens") play an important role in the prevention of both breast and cervical cancer. Research shows that berries may contain some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens.
The high tannin content of blackberries gives them natural astringent properties. Tannins tighten tissue, reduce minor bleeding, and could help to combat diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. Blackberries are recommended for mild infections such as sore throats and mouth irritations. Blackberries have also been used to help get rid of haemorrhoids with their rich tannin content. The tannins are also reported to have anti-tumor properties.
- Black Raspberries, also known as "black caps" are a very healthy food; packed with anthocyanins!
- The USDA says 1 cup of blackberries has about 62 calories.
- 1 cup of blackberries, not packed down weighs about 140 grams.
- Blackberry tea was said to be a cure for dysentery during the Civil War. During outbreaks of dysentery, temporary truces were declared to allow both Union and Confederate soldiers to "go blackberrying" to forgage for blackberries to ward off the disease.
- Blackberries were enjoyed by the ancient Greeks, who believed them to be a cure for diseases of the mouth and throat, as well as a preventative against many ailments, including gout.
- The blackberry leaf was also used as an early hair dye, having been recommended by Culpeper, the English herbalist, to be boiled in a lye solution in order to "maketh the hair black".
- Southern Grace Farms
- Connecting Berry Health Benefit Researchers
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