…. the wild blackberry, Rubus Occidentalis, is an incredibly nutritious and healthy berry, native to North America and a true “super” food (although not advertised as such), which is free for the picking in many areas of Canada and the USA. They are good to freeze and preserve but great just picked off the bramble.
The Bountiful Blackberry
Living in the Raspberry Capital of Canada has its benefits with an abundance of fresh produce available during the summer from fresh raspberries, blueberries to “peaches and cream” corn, but it is always a treat to be able to pick unlimited quantities of the bountiful, juicy, wild blackberry.
The blackberry is grown commercially, mostly south of the border, with varieties such as the Thornless Blackberry . It is available from time to time in grocery stores but is usually expensive compared with other berry fruits. It is not marketed to the same degree as other widely accepted health fruits such as pomegranate, blueberry and other berries also prized for their antioxidant benefits.
Health Benefits of Blackberries
- It is commonly known that blackberries (and several other berries) are packed with antioxidants (polyphenols and anthocyanins) which can help prevent cancer and other diseases
- Blackberries are loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K and fibre and can supply a high percentage of the RDA for Vitamin C, K and fibre
- Blackberry nutrient composition and anti cancer information is included in this study by Edralin A. Lucas, Oklahoma State University and ranks blackberries #4 on the list of antioxidant content of fruits
- Blackberry root has been used in Native American medicine to treat diarrhea and dysentery (Healing Herbs, G & S. Weiss, Rodale, 1985)
- As an added health bonus – wild blackberries should be “organically” grown, pesticide and herbicide free!
All our possessions are as nothing compared with health, . . . . . . Hosea Ballou
Ways to Use & Preserve Blackberries
- Make Wild Blackberry juice
- Enjoy blackberry jams and jellies and try blackberry / apricot blended jams , etc.
- Pressure canned or mixed with other fruits (such as rhubarb or apple) for dessert, baking
- Smoothies – just add milk, yoghurt and mix. Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies
- Freeze for pies, muffins, crumbles and tea breads
- Delightful dessert toppings (fresh over ice cream, cottage cheese or yoghurt)
- And, of course, just fresh from the bush while picking!
- Other uses, not tried (so unable to recommend) are Blackberry tea and Blackberry wine.
- “The Modern Family Cook Book”, M. Given, Ferguson Publishing, 1942 has recipes for Blackberry Cobbler, Pudding and Turnovers as well as a Blackberry and Cantelope salad
- My ancient 1895 “Cassells New Universal Cookery Book” by Lizzie Heritage, 1894 has interesting recipes for Blackberry brandy, sauce and syrup and finally pickled!
In my opinion, Wild Blackberry is a Superfood all of its own specifically because it is readily available, nutritious, accessible and free to anyone who takes the time to just go pickin’. Besides being really good for you, blackberries just taste great!
Brighten your day – go blackberry picking!
We do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.
~ Albert Einstein
Recipe for (pressure) Canned Blackberries
A simple formula to make up a small quantity of fresh berries for the winter. This recipe makes about 14 one cup jars of half rhubarb and half blackberry conserve.
- 8 cups freshly picked organic Rhubarb – chopped into half to one inch thickness (depending on thickness of rhubarb stem)
- 8 cups freshly picked blackberries – quick washed, if needed, and drained
- 2 cups Apple juice – 100% juice (not from concentrate)
- Juice from two fresh lemons
- Mix chopped rhubarb into stainless steel pot with 2 cups of apple juice and the fresh lemon juice
- Bring to boil, simmer few minutes (2 to 3) to soften rhubarb but should not be overcooked (This step can be omitted – see #7 below)
- Half fill clean, hot canning jars with rhubarb mixture
- Fill remaining half of jars with fresh (uncooked) blackberries, top with liquid
- Can per your pressure canner instructions e.g. 5 minutes at 5 lbs pressure
- Step 2 was included as the rhubarb used was very large. Omit this step and simply
- Mix raw chopped rhubarb (or other fruit) and blackberries and cover with hot apple / lemon juice mixture and cook in pressure cooker usually at 5 lbs pressure for 8 minutes
- All measurements approximate
- If insufficient liquid to fill jars – add water
- If using cold pack canning method, other fruits, such as apple, should be washed, peeled and cut small
- No sugars have been added. If desired honey can be added when used
- The blackberry does not make it into a lot of modern recipe books so what I normally do is use ideas and recipes for raspberries and just substitute blackberries.
Links & References
- An interesting list of the phytochemicals in the fruit we love to eat
- Anti-cancer effects of bioactive berry compounds by F. Fulmer, U. Ubasavaraju, M. Jaspars & M. Diederich (March 2014)