Blackberries are tasty way to increase your intake of fibre, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin K. One cup of blackberries, for instance, delivers 8 grams of fibre and 33 to 40% of a day's worth of vitamin C. Not bad for only 62 calories.
Blackberries owe their dark hue anthocyanins, phytochemicals thought to help guard against cancer and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, the MIND diet, shown to lower the risk of Alzheimers, recommends eating berries at least twice per week.
Here's the nutrition breakdown for one cup (250 ml) of blackberries:
|Vitamin C||30 mg|
|Vitamin K||28.5 mcg|
Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007
In Canada, blackberries are available in more than 11 different varieties including the sweet, tart Ollallie, the tangy Marion and the mild-tasting Chester. The Ollalie blackberry is harvested in late May while other varieties are in season between July and August.
Blackberries are grown on farms in the temperate regions of northern and eastern Canada, as well as southern British Columbia. They also grow in the wild and can be found in dry open woodlands or along roadsides.
When buying loose blackberries, choose berries that are firm, plump and free of moisture or mold. The highest quality blackberries will have a uniform dark colour and good aroma. (Darker blackberries have a higher antioxidant content.)
If you're buying blackberries packaged in a clear container, make sure they're free of mold and not crushed from being packed to tightly.
Fresh blackberries should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator. They'll keep for two days in their original container or spread out on a plate covered with plastic wrap.
Blackberries can be frozen whole, unwashed, by spreading them out on a cookie sheet which ia then placed in the freezer. A day later, gather the raspberries and place in a plastic freezer bag or rigid plastic container, then rput back in the freezer.
For best results, defrost your raspberries in the original container in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the ice crystals to melt slowly allowing the berries to train their shape.
Frozen blackberries will store for up to one year. Don't forget to label the date on the freezer bag or container!
Blackberries are highly perishable so wash them just before you are going to use them. (Moisture causes berries to lose their firm texture.)
When washing, gently place blackberries in a strainer and rinse briefly under cool running water.
Blackberries add bright colour, flavour and nutrients to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy
- Blend one half-cup (125 ml) of blackberries with three ounces of silken tofu (90 grams) and half a banana for an antioxidant-rich smoothie.
- Top plain Greek yogurt with onw cup (250 ml) of blackberries for a high fibre start to your day.
- Mix blackberries and strawberries with a pinch of cinnamon, lemon juice and maple syrup and serve over whole grain pancakes or waffles.
- Add blackberries to your favourite muffin, pancake or waffle recipe.
- Top a bowl of hot oatmeal with blackberries for a boost of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Lunch & Dinner
- Toss blackberries into spinach salad; the vitamin C enhances the amount of iron your body absorbs from the spinach.
- Stir a handful of blackberries into steamed green beans, allowing the heat from the beans to pull out the juices from the berries.
- Make a blackberry glaze for your favourite fish or meat dish by simmering one cup (250 ml) of blackberries with lime juice, fresh ginger and sugar.
Snacks and desserts
- Blend blackberries with skim or 1% milk, low-fat yogurt or an unsweetened plant beverage and ice for an energizing mid day smoothie.
- Enjoy a homemade whole grain blackberry muffin with your afternoon coffee or tea.
- Layer plain Greek yogurt and blackberries for a protein- and fibre-rich parfait.
- Drizzle a blackberry coulis (pureed fruit sauce) over frozen yogurt or angel food cake.
- Enjoy blackberry sorbet as a refreshing treat on a hot day.
Did you know?
- Blackberries also contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical thought to block cancer cell growth.
- Immature blackberries are red and hard; they turn black and shiny as they ripen.