You know how hard it is to get kids to help in the garden.
Blackberry season is one of those times of year when I’ve been known to shoo my kiddos out of my berry patch.
Blackberries + purple tongues, stained fingers and excited expressions of yum = AWESOME!
Here are a few tips to pick these gems properly if you are lucky enough to know where to find some:
- Gently knock them from their stem when their color is dull.
- If some of the juice sacks (druplets) have started to dry out or look a little wrinkley – the berries are even sweeter.
- We pressed gently, the berry should give a little instead of being firm to the touch.
When picked with those three things in mind, your berries will bust with sweetness and intense flavor when picked right off the vine at their peak.
Nifty facts about blackberries:
- It doesn’t matter where you live, drive to the Northwest and pick piles of them for free as they grow on the side of the road like common weeds. Should we all be so lucky to have blackberries for weeds!
- Its not really a berry – similar to pineapple and raspberries they are an aggregate fruit - individual small fruits born from separate ovaries of the same flower - called drupelets.
- Blackberries are on the top 10 list of foods with exceptional antioxidant levels. Their dark purple color is what tells you they are packed with anthocyandidins and phytochemicals (plant awesomeness that fight disease and lower your risk of cancer).
- Blackberries decrease inflammation and oxidative stress when they work their plant power magic on your insides. Their antioxidants decrease the risk of cancer buy neutralizing nutzo free radicals (psyho cells that go about damaging healthy cells). Those same antioxidants courteract environmental carcinogens too. They strengthen blood vessles, fight heart disease and protect eyesight. BAM! All in a little berry that isn’t actually a berry.
Three reasons why I LOVE blackberries -
- With all the rain we got in May, I have more blackberries on my canes this year than I have the last 5 years combined. Lesson learned, tons of water means tons of berries.
- They are easy to pick as my canes are thornless, berries are big and they hold up well in the freezer
- The ENTIRE berry is purple giving it excellent natural food coloring camouflage when placed in the blender with its fruit and veggie pals almost every night.
Ok, I have 4 reasons why I love blackberries.
My personal favorite reason for adoring blackberries is much more personal.
When I was a little twerp with long red braids I could sit on, my Italian Great Grandma would make dinner every Sunday for the extended family. Her home smelled of spaghetti sauce and old coffee which simmered all day in a pot on the back burner of the stove. Still, two of my all-time favorite smells.
My great grandma had the family over weekly not just to fuel our bodies with her incredible rigatoni, generosity and love BUT to keep us connected to each other which was equally important.
Great Grandma Theresa would always wear a dress with strappy kitten heels to boost her tiny stature, a gingham checked apron with wide shoulders, a high neck and 2 deep pockets rimmed with wide rickrack (perfect to protect against the dangers of splattery spaghetti sauce). Her glasses were horn-rimmed and crusted with fake jewels. She also wore gigantic clip on earrings that looked like blackberries.
Every time I pick berries, freeze and bag the frosted gems, thunk them into the blender with the other fruits and veggies; I am reminded of my Great Grandma Theresa, spaghetti sauce and the thick smell of old coffee. And it makes my heart smile.
You need blackberries in your life to fill your body with the power of plants and the with the power of connection, like my great grandma's earrings.
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Happy Berry Season!