The blackberry is actually an ancient fruit, prescribed by the Ancient
Greeks for gout, mentioned in the Bible, and commonly written about
in British folklore.
Wild blackberries are relatives of the
rose and the soft, juicy fruit grows on thorny bushes or trailing vines.
Just like a raspberry, the blackberry is called an "aggregate fruit"
because each berry is really a cluster of tiny fruits, or druplets.
Each druplet has a seed, and, unlike raspberries, blackberry druplets
remain centered around the core even after the berry is picked.
are considered to be an astringent because of their high tannin content.
Studies show that tannins tighten tissue, lesson minor bleeding, and
may help to alleviate diarrohea and intestinal inflammation. German
health authorities recommend blackberries for mild infections including
sore throats and mouth irritations. Traditionally, blackberries have
been used to alleviate hemorrhoids because of their rich tannin content.
Scientists have also reported antitumor properties associated with tannins
found in some varieties of blackberries. Overindulgence of tannin-rich
blackberries may lead to constipation.
abound in antioxidants, such as anthocyanin pigments, responsible for
the purplish-black colour of blackberries and may impart health benefits
because of their antioxidant properties. Additional antioxidants in
blackberries are vitamins C and E, and ellagic acid; all may provide
protection against cancer and chronic disease. Cooking does not seem
to destroy ellagic acid, so even blackberry jams and desserts retain
ellagic acid health benefits. Interestingly, blackberries are a natural
source of salicylate, an active substance found in aspirin. Potential
benefits have yet to be explored and some experts advise caution to
particularly aspirin-sensitive individuals. Because of their many tiny
seeds, blackberries are a source of soluble fibre, such as pectin.
are consumed fresh, frozen, and canned, and are commonly made into jams,
juices, syrups, desserts, and even wine.
Choose blackberries that are moderately firm, plump, dry, and uniform
in dark purplish-black color. Fresh blackberries are not always readily
available in stores because quality is lost during shipping. When purchasing,
be sure to check the bottom of the blackberry container to ensure that
there are no mouldy or crushed berries.
Blackberries (in fact berries in general) are among the most perishable
of fruits; they can turn soft, mushy, and mouldy within 24 hours. Blackberries
are best used the same day that they are gathered or purchased. When
you bring home a box of berries, turn it out and check the fruit. Remove
soft, overripe berries for immediate consumption; discard any smashed
or mouldy berries and gently blot the remainder dry with a paper towel.
Return the berries to the box, or, better still, spread them on a shallow
plate or pan and cover with paper towels, then with plastic wrap. Blackberries
will keep for about 2 days. Although blackberries have a short season
and are highly perishable, they freeze quite well, allowing you to enjoy
them practically all year round. You can buy pre packaged frozen berries,
but these may have sweetener added. Freezing berries yourself is simple.
Place berries (wash and dry only if necessary) in a single layer, slightly
apart on a baking sheet. Place the berries in the freezer until they
are solidly frozen, and then transfer them to an airtight container
or heavy plastic bag, seal tight, pressing out all air, label and date.
They will keep for 6 months.
Use fresh blackberries as soon as possible because of their limited
freshness. Sort berries again before serving, discarding any stems and
mouldy or squashed berries. Gently rinse the fruit, drain, and gently
fresh blackberries as they are, drizzled with honey or tossed with a
little sugar. Or make a fruit salad with a combination of berries.
Fresh, or frozen blackberries may be
used for jams. If using fresh berries, keep a few unripened berries
in the mixture as they help to set the jam.