Berry Of The Week: Blackberries

blackberriesBlackberries are so juicy and delicious you just have to add them to your favorite summer fruit salad! This week we’re giving you some of the blackberry’s rich history, recipes to make your mouth water, and all of the fabulous nutritional benefits of shoving your face with this black berry. Enjoy!

History of Blackberries

Blackberries were perceived by the ancient cultures as being a wild plant, and historical accounts for a backyard culture of blackberry bushes are few. The Greeks used the blackberry as a remedy for Gout, and the Romans made a tea from the leaves of the blackberry plant to treat various illnesses.

John Bartram, the early American explorer, botanist, and writer founded the first United States Botanical Garden, in 1728. In the early American colonies, William Bartram in his book, Travels, noted that General Oglethorpe was sent to the colony of Georgia in 1733 to investigate the possibility of establishing various temperate and subtropical plants which might “prove valuable for Georgia farms and orchards.” William Bartram noted further in his book, Travels, that he his father, John Bartram, were sent to explore the Southern colonies that included East Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama to take an inventory of plants growing there after the Spanish were expelled by the English. Bartram reported that just outside of Mobile, Alabama, it “grows here five or six feet high, rambling like Brier vines over the fences and shrubs.”

Much of the first modern blackberry variety development was done in America, beginning with Judge Logan of California in 1880, and the release and introduction of the Loganberry.

The Boysenberry was developed from a natural selection saved from the abandoned farm of Mr. Rudolf Boysen by USDA member George Darrow, along with Walter Knott, a California fruit and berry enthusiast, whose wife began making berry preserves, and that farm later became the famous Knotts Berry Farm, located near the Walt Disney amusement park in California.

The Youngberry was developed in 1905 in Morgan City, Louisiana; it is a cross between Luther Burbank’s, Phenomenal Berry, and the Austin-Mayes Dewberry, a trailing blackberry. This berry had excellent qualities, such as taste and high yields, and it soon replaced the Loganberry of California after its release.

European blackberry juice was used to treat infections of the mouth and eyes until the 16th century. In the Pacific Northwest, the powdered bark of blackberry brambles was used for toothache relief. A tea made from blackberry leaves is said to aid digestion or arrest vomiting according to First Nations tribes in Washington State and British Columbia. Blackberry root concoctions have been used to remedy dysentery.

Where Can I Buy Blackberries?

Pick up blackberries at any local grocery store. To find the healthiest blackberries, head to your local Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s for the organic choice.

Where Are They Grown Locally?

Check out this website, Local Difference, for tons of farms that offer blackberry picking or simply sell delicious blackberries.

Organic vs. Conventional

So should you buy those conventional blackberries at your local Meijer or head to a Whole Foods Market to get organic?

We recommend choosing the safe option and picking organic blackberries. They are a bit more expensive, but if you care about our planet and your health, it is the right choice. Organic blackberries use less non-renewable resources, eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that harm our environment and health of farmers, conserves resources, and values health.

If you simply can’t afford to choose all organic fruits and vegetables, be sure to clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Scrub using a vegetable brush, soak in either salt water or vinegar, and peel the skin off whenever possible.

Nutritional Benefits

Possibly the most promising benefit from consuming blackberries is their substantial quantity of phenolic acids which are antioxidant compounds known as potent anti-carcinogenic agents, as well as having numerous other potential health benefits.

Phenolics in blackberries include anthocyanins, ellagic acid, rutin, gallic acid, hydrocaffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and cinnamic acid, plus excellent contents of the antioxidant vitamins A and C.

Nutritious blackberries are a great addition to recipes or as a healthy fresh snack by the handful. Blackberries don’t have to be fresh to be nutritious, as quick-frozen and canned berries retain most of the fresh fruit qualities.

Flash freezing, which is used to make IQF (immediately quick frozen) blackberries, helps trap nutrients and plant chemicals soon after harvest and provides for a healthier fruit. Increasingly seen in whole foods stores across the US and Canada, blackberries (especially Marionberries) can be purchased frozen in one pound bags year round.

Due to their rich contents of the phenolics mentioned above, blackberries have an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbent capacity) of about 5350 per 100 grams, making them near the top of ORAC fruits. Cranberries and wild blueberries have around 9350 ORAC units, black raspberries about 12,000 and apples average 3100.

Although there are no clinical studies to date proving these effects below in humans, medical research shows likely benefit of regularly consuming blackberries against:

  • pleurisy and lung inflammation
  • anti-thrombosis (inhibition of blood clotting)
  • several types of cancer
  • endotoxin shock
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • diabetes
  • age-related cognitive decline.

Some Yummy & Healthy Recipes

Deep-Dish Apple-Blackberry Pie

8 servings

Active Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 2 1/2 hours (including cooling time)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds tart apples, (about 6 apples)
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, (not thawed)
  • 1 recipe Walnut Pastry Dough, (recipe follows)

This recipe calls for:

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine lemon juice and vanilla in a large bowl. Peel, core and cut apples into 3/4-inch chunks, tossing them in the lemon juice mixture as you work.
  3. Mix 2/3 cup sugar and cornstarch and toss with apples. Add blackberries.
  4. Place 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Set the larger disk of dough in the center and cover with 2 more sheets of plastic wrap. Roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Remove top sheets and invert dough into the prepared pan, letting excess dough hang over the edges. Gently press the dough into bottom and sides of pan. Pull off plastic wrap. With a rubber spatula, scrape the apple-blackberry filling into pie shell.
  5. Roll out smaller disk of dough as above, making an 11-inch circle. Remove top sheets of plastic and invert dough over filling. Pull off plastic wrap. Press together edges of pastry to seal. With the tip of a sharp knife, cut 3 or 4 short slashes to vent steam. Moisten a pastry brush with water and lightly brush top of pie. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place the pie on a baking sheet with sides.
  6. Bake until crust is golden and filling bubbles, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: The dough will keep, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Return dough to room temperature before rolling.

Nutrition

Per serving: 377 calories; 13 g fat ( 3 g sat , 2 g mono ); 8 mg cholesterol; 62 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber; 293 mg sodium; 221 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 4

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fruit, 1 1/2 other carbohydrate, 2 1/2 fat

Blackberry Sorbet

6 servings, 3/4 cup each

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup instant-dissolving sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crème de cassis, or black currant syrup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 quart blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, crème de cassis or black currant syrup and water in a medium bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Puree blackberries with lemon juice in a food processor. To remove seeds, force the puree through a fine strainer into a bowl. Add the sugar mixture and mix well. If necessary, chill until cold. Pour into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Alternatively, freeze the mixture in a shallow metal cake pan until solid, about 6 hours. Break into chunks and process in a food processor until smooth.)

Nutrition

Per serving: 174 calories; 0 g fat ( 0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 5 g fiber; 2 mg sodium; 168 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (40% daily value).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2

Exchanges: 1/2 fruit, 2 other carbohydrate

Grilled Chicken & Polenta with Nectarine-Blackberry Salsa

4 servings

Active Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 16- to 18-ounce tube prepared plain polenta
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
  • 2 nectarines, halved and pitted
  • 1 pint blackberries, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub 1 teaspoon of the mixture all over polenta. Rub the rest into both sides of chicken. Cut the polenta crosswise into 8 slices. Rub the cut sides of nectarine halves with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil.
  3. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Place the chicken, polenta slices and nectarines on the grill. Grill the polenta until hot and slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate; tent with foil to keep warm. Grill the nectarines, turning occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes total. Grill the chicken, until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken and nectarines to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the nectarines. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice.
  4. While the chicken rests, combine the chopped nectarines, blackberries, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Layer the polenta, chicken and fruit salsa on 4 plates and serve.

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: To oil the grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Don’t use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Nutrition

Per serving: 317 calories; 8 g fat ( 1 g sat , 4 g mono ); 63 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrates; 27 g protein; 6 g fiber; 694 mg sodium; 458 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (35% daily value), Fiber (24% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 3 lean meat

Information courtesy of Ezine Articles, Health Learning Info. and recipes courtesy of Eating Well.

You may also like:

Go Organic, Even on a Budget

Strawberries

Raspberries

Blueberries

To read more from Lauren, check out Lauren’s Thoughts!

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan  www.Askinyourface.com LLC

Be Sociable, Share!

Related posts:

Love this post? Buy us a coffee to celebrate!

About Lauren

Speak Your Mind

*