I remember as a child going to my aunt’s house in Eldon, MO and picking wild blackberries.
By DONNA COOK
It would be hot and humid and we would still have on jeans, long sleeve shirts, gloves with the fingers cut off just so we wouldn’t get scratched by the thorns.
The rewards were worth it. Fresh fruit, pies and sauce over home-made ice cream were just a few of the things my mom would make. Plus we would bring home over 100 quarts of frozen berries.
The blackberry’s actual botanical classification is an aggregate fruit that is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes. The fruit is very dark purple with smooth, fragile skin. In the middle of the cluster is a greenish-white core that extends to almost the bottom of the berry.
Blackberries can be easily confused with raspberries, but raspberries (including black raspberries) have a hollow center. The core stays on the vine with raspberries.
Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C. But they offer other nutritional benefits including a very low sodium count, 62 calories to a cup, high in dietary fiber, manganese, vitamins K and B and folic acid.
Enjoy the seeds when you eat blackberries, because they are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fats, protein, carotenoids, dietary fiber and ellagic acid, another antioxidant property. The blackberry fruit contains anthocyanocides, responsible for the berry’s color, and polyhphenol.
Both of these antioxidant properties are believed to fight free radicals in our bodies, and in doing so ward off heart disease, cancer and strokes. Their ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) is 5347 per 100 grams, ranking them toward the top of all ORAC fruit and at the top position of more than 1,000 antioxidant foods in the United States.
A recipe that I love to put blackberries in is this Massaged Kale salad. I substitute blackberries for the mango.
Massaged Kale Salad with Blackberries
1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 mango, diced small — about 1 cup. (I substitute blackberries for the mango)
Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons
In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage the kale until it starts to soften and wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes. Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango (this is where I put in the blackberries) and pepitas. Toss and serve.
Variations: I also add 1 cup of cooked quinoa to this salad and any other raw vegetables I might have, cucumbers, tomatoes, finely chopped squash and on and on.
Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a Master Gardener, Master Food Volunteer and on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.
Quick Cooking Tip: Massaging Kale