Blackberries can often seem like the black sheep of the berry world--overshadowed by ripe, juicy strawberries and sweet, plump blueberries. But summer blackberries are absolutely delicious, amazingly good for you, and true survivors – wild blackberries are thrivers – but still, blackberries rarely get the press those other berries do. That’s OK, though! The blackberry's wonderful nutritional profile and tantalizing flavor has lead many berry-lovers to truly adore, desire, and promote this lesser-lauded summer berry.
Blackberries are a bramble fruit. Common varieties include upright or trailing plants. Before blackberries are fully ripened, the berries appear glossy and taste extremely tart. Once ripened, the berries are dark and dull in appearance, and taste amazingly sweet and have a soft texture.
Blackberries are colored by anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a class of phytochemicals that can soothe inflammation, and may lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. The antioxidant compounds in blackberries also may prevent gastric ulcers and coronary heart disease. Blackberries also contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant touted for its ability to protect skin from ultraviolet damage, and repair sun damage skin.
At just 62 calories, 1 cup of blackberries contains:
- 7.6 g of fiber
- 30.2 mg of vitamin C
- 36 mcg of folate (vitamin B-9)
- 29 mg of magnesium
- 42 mg of calcium
- Other vitamins in blackberries include A, E, and K.
Mid-summer is the ideal time to make a light, refreshing fruit tart filled with freshly picked blackberries.
Liesl’s Rustic Blackberry Balsamic Tart (via Mother Earth News)
2-3 pints of fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 cup + sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Few knobs of butter
Handful sliced or slivered almonds (toasted)
Zest of 1/2 an orange (or 1/2 tsp grated dried orange peel)
Fresh whipped cream, for serving
1 recipe of homemade pastry of your choice
Gently wash berries and place them into a medium bowl. Add sugar and flour to berries, mix gently. Stir in balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Add dried or fresh orange zest and let berries sit to macerate while starting the pastry.
Take pie dough and roll out on a floured board. Don't worry about cracks -- just roll out dough in a large circular shape. Place pie dough on a large sheet of parchment. Berries should now appear lustrous. Stir and taste syrup – add more balsamic or sugar to taste.
Pile berries and juices into the center of the pie dough. Add a few knobs of butter. Gently fold the pastry and encase berries. Egg wash sides of the tart and sprinkle toasted almonds and sugar. Using the parchment, transfer tart (while keeping parchment underneath) to a large baking tray. Bake in a 375-degree oven until fragrant and golden--about 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Garnish with a sprig of fresh herbs and fresh whipped cream if desired.
Rather get your sweet craving fix via booze? We don’t blame you. Here’s an easy recipe for a Blackberry Rosemary Sparkler.
If you’re craving a savory meal rather than sweet, give this Blackberry Cabernet Marinated Steak a try.
For more information about growing blackberries, and maintaining wild blackberry bushes (hint: wear clothing to save your skin from brambles!), consult Mother Earth News’ article “Enjoy Fresh Blackberries,” by Barbara Pleasant.