Just picked my second batch of wild blackberries and boy, some of them are big and juicy this year! I picked almost two pounds so I can now make some jam-yummy. I tried a Basil Blackberry jam last week for a recipe from Giada deLaurentis and it was good but even for me, a little too much basil!!! So I found this cool recipe site – Jules Food and I will try it for the jams/jellies contest at the market. There is another one on her site that I am trying but it is a surprise!
Did you know all the nutritional and medicinal value blackberries have?
Blackberries are notable for their high nutritional contents of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid (a B vitamin), and the essential mineral manganese.
Blackberries rank highly among fruits for antioxidant strength, particularly due to their dense contents of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins and cyanidins.
Blackberries have an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of 5347 per 100 grams, including them among the top-ranked ORAC fruits. Another report using a different assay for assessing antioxidant strength placed blackberry at the top of more than 1000 antioxidant foods consumed in the United States.
Nutrient content of seedsBlackberries contain numerous large seeds that are not always preferred by consumers. The seeds contain some oil which is rich in omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and -6 fats (linoleic acid), as well as some protein, dietary fiber, carotenoids, ellagitannins and ellagic acid.
An infusion of the leaves is said to be useful for soothing sunburn, and other minor burns. I have used a syrup of the ripe berries to relieve upset stomachs and nausea, and to soothe sore throats and coughs.
In addition to the delights of eating freshly gathered Blackberries with cream and sugar, baked into pies, or made into jam, here are some additional ways to enjoy them.
Put ripe berries into a large pot and mash very gently with a potato masher. Add water to barely cover the berries, and cook over low heat until the steam rises and they start to give up their juice. Remove from heat and strain to remove seeds. Measure ½ cup of white sugar or mild-flavored honey (such as clover) for each cup of Blackberry juice, mix together the sweetening and juice, and reheat slowly only until sweetening is dissolved. Try not to let the juice or syrup boil, since this tends to destroy the appealing fresh-berry flavor. Keep syrup refrigerated in jars. (It may also be frozen, and keeps very well both ways.)
Blackberry syrup may be poured over cake, pancakes, or ice cream, and stirred into fresh fruit compotes. A few spoonfuls may be added to hot tea, and a pleasant drink may be prepared by adding 1 cup of boiling water to about an ounce of Blackberry syrup, along with a slice of lemon and sugar or honey to taste. This is especially welcome on a cold day, or before retiring.
Prepare syrup as for Blackberry syrup (preceding recipe), or if you wish a sweeter cordial, allow 1 cup of sugar to each cup of juice. You may spice the syrup with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, or cloves, the combination and amount to your own taste. (Crush whole spices yourself. Do not use store-bought powders.) Boil syrup gently for about 10 minutes, then strain out the spices. You may use ½ cup of vodka (or brandy if you prefer) for each cup of syrup, or equal amounts of spirits and syrup. Store in tightly covered bottles.
Barely cover ripe berries with malt or cider vinegar, gently crush to allow juices to flow, and let stand three days. Strain, allowing juice to drip overnight. Measure juice, and add ½ cup of white sugar or mild honey for each cup of liquid. Mix together and boil gently until sweetening is dissolved. Skim off any scum that forms. When cool, bottle and cap tightly. A teaspoonful mixed with water is an excellent thirst quencher, especially welcome during feverish colds and coughs.
Allow 1 heaping tablespoon of dried Blackberry leaves per cup of boiling water, cover, and steep 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or sugar to taste. You can combine equal amounts of dried mint and dried Blackberry leaves—and excellent combination.
Dried Blackberry-leaf tea makes an excellent astringent wash for oily skin. Prepare as for Blackberry-leaf tea, using ¼ cup of leaves. Let cool to tepid, strain, pressing out all liquid, and pat gently on your skin.
To dry Blackberry leaves: Pick leaves dearest the growing tips (from midspring to midsummer) in the morning when the dew has dried off. Lay on screens or hang up in small bunches out of the sun, but in a dry airy place. When thoroughly dry, they will be crisp and brittle. Strip the whole leaves carefully from the stalks, and put away in jars. The leaves should retain their green color. To best preserve the active properties of the plant, do not crumble the leaves until you are ready to prepare the tea.
To prepare a tea with the dried green Blackberries, use 1 heaping tablespoon of berries. Pour boiling water over them, and allow them to steep 15 minutes. Strain, and add sugar or honey to taste. I have found this tea useful to ease mild stomach upsets.
To dry berries: Generally speaking, it is the green, unripe rather than the ripe Blackberries that are dried because the valuable astringent principle is strongest in the unripe berries. Make sure clusters are free from moisture when picked, and dry as described above for the leaves. They will take longer than the leaves, and will shrivel considerably. Put away only when thoroughly dry, or they will mold.
Blackberries are delicious in apple pie. Add about 1 cup or more if you wish to pie filling.
To freeze berries: Was gently and let dry thoroughly before freezing in plastic bags. It is not necessary to thaw before using.
Blackberry plants are a fine source of natural dye. A terra cotta color can be obtained from the leaves, and purple-brown from the ripe berries. See the Appendix, page 171, for instructions on preparing dye.
Excerpt from A City Herbal by Maida Silverman