Blackberries are enjoyed not only by humans but by the animal kingdom as well. Certain grazing animals, especially deer, enjoy the berries as well as the leaves. And certain caterpillars devour the leaves as their sole source of food. For thousands of years blackberries were “gathered” but as time passed, edible berries were “picked”.
Blackberries start out as red berries but as they ripen, their color becomes green. Once completely ripe, they are a purple-black color. They are at their peak in taste when the glossy-shine they’ve had throughout the growth period turns dull and their color appears more black than purple. Their peak season is during the summer but they are available year around.
They are a great source of fiber (144 grams per cup) and Vitamin C (which protects the immune system), as well as folate, potassium, and other minerals. They are a natural cholesterol-free fruit and also low in calories, fat, and sodium. Blackberries have an abundance of antioxidants, including anthocyanins which we saw in Acai berries, and which gives blackberries their rich, dark color.
Interestingly enough, blackberries also contain salicylic acid. This compound has been proven to numb bodily pains, treats high body fevers, and is similar to aspirin that aids in protecting the body against heart disease.
When cooking with blackberries, it is good to know that they are low in pectin which is a natural thickener. You can eat them raw, whole, mashed, pureed, baked into pies and cobblers or added to muffins and cakes. Blackberries are a popular soft fruit that is often times used in jams, seedless jelly, and even sometimes wine. Maybe you’re familiar with a blackberry/apple pie.
The state of Oregon in the United States is the leading commercial blackberry producer in the world. In other parts of the country (Pacific Northwest) you’ll find some of these various blackberry cultivars: Black Diamond, Black Pearl, nightfall, Obsidian, Waldo, Siskiyou, Black Butte, and Cascade. It’s interesting that blackberries are related to raspberries, too. They do have plenty of little seeds to dig out of your teeth.
Blackberry cobbler is one of my husbands’ favorite desserts but we don’t get to eat it that often. Keep your eyes open this summer and you’ll find them at your local store or get to pick them right off the plants. Enjoy blackberries for your health!