Season for Blackberries May - August
Despite its name, the blackberry is not a true berry, botanically speaking. It's actually an aggregate fruit, composed of small drupelets. But for all intents and purposes, it's a berry gosh darnit! Also called a bramble because it grows on thorny bushes - or brambles - the blackberry is a childhood favorite for meandering children. Purplish-black in color, it ranges from 1/2 to 1 inch long when mature, making for quite a large burst of sweet and/or tart deliciousness in the mouth. Just watch out for those thorns.
How to Buy and Store Blackberries
When perusing a bush or pre-picked and contained blackberries at the market, look for plump, shiny, tender and deeply-colored specimens. At the store, choose those that don't have the hull attached, for that is a sign of immaturity and indicates the flavor will be tart. Avoid mush and mold. Eat your berries as soon as possible, but you can also refrigerate them, lightly covered and preferably in a single layer, for 1 to 2 days.
How to Cook Blackberries
As blackberries are very delicate, avoid washing them at all if possible. But if you have to (not organic?), do it just before using them and drain well, handling with care. A ripe blackberry is delicious out of hand, at room temperature. They also make a delicious addition to pies, crumbles, ice creams, jams and summer puddings and pair beautifully with apples (blackberry-apple crumble anyone?). Blackberry's natural acidity also pairs well with gamey meats for something truly unique. Purée and sieve blackberries to make a coulis for ice cream or to make sherbets or smooth over the top of your famous cheesecake recipe.
Health Benefits of Blackberries
Heed this sun worshippers: Like all berries, blackberries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the skin from ultraviolet damage. New research is finding that ellagic acid may not only protect the skin from damage, but also repair skin damaged by the sun! Blackberries are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, making for a nutritious treat that is also super low in calories. Packed with antioxidants, blackberries help combat all kinds of damage from free radicals.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Blackberries
Conventional berries are some of the worst when it comes to pesticide residues. They carry traces of chemicals that have been found dangerously harmful - from hormone disruptors to carcinogenic to obesity-causing. Your blackberries should come from your neighbor's nearby bush or from an organic farmer. That way, you keep pesticides out of your body and out of our precious ecosystems.