B is for blackberries

B is for Blackberries

blackberriesGuest blog: Blackberries are perhaps the only source of fruit that is both widely available and free. So why not combine a blackberry gathering session with an autumn country walk? They are in season from June to November (obviously they are available in the supermarket all year round – but think of the carbon footprint involved in buying imported berries).

By guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food /nutrition. 

If you don’t have the time to pick your own, or don’t know a good blackberrying spot, then you can, of course, buy punnets of the berries in season from a supermarket or greengrocer. It’s worth buying organic blackberries, as commercial supplies are repeatedly sprayed with pesticides. They do seem expensive, for a fruit that’s potentially free, but that’s because they are fragile and need careful packing, and also have a short shelf life. By the way, do wash wild blackberries carefully, as they may have been exposed to roadside pollution.

Like all berries, blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and soluble fibre. They are also rich in phytochemicals like ellagic acid and kaempferol, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to one study*, blackberries come third after blueberries and cranberries for antioxidant activity.

Green blackberry juice
Serves one

150 g blackberries
Bunch spinach
One inch peeled ginger
One lemon
Juice all ingredients and drink immediately. Vary this by adding extra berries (eg raspberries, blueberries) and extra greens (eg kale, cucumber).

Blackberry smoothie

I have been experimenting with a Nutribullet. It’s very different from a conventional juicer (indeed, it’s not a juicer at all…). I’m still finding my way and here is one of my early recipes.

Around 150 g blackberries
Almond or coconut milk to top up (I used a blend of both)
One tsp flax/chia powder
One tsp berry powder

Blend as per instructions. Again, these seed/fruit powders are something I’m experimenting with, so I won’t recommend a particular brand (there are plenty to try in the health food shops).

Healthy blackberry crumble

Although apple is the traditional accompaniment to blackberries in a pudding, I prefer to combine them with blueberries and raspberries. The crumble topping is the chance to mix up some high-protein spelt flour with a granola mix to add a touch of sweetness and boost the texture with some milled nuts (the Nutribullet again). The berries don’t really need any further moisture as they are so juicy, but I add a splash of either pomegranate or cranberry juice, again for sweetness without sugar.
Serves 4

150 g blackberries
150 g blueberries
150 g raspberries
Splash of pure pomegranate juice
For the topping
100 g spelt flour
100 g berry granola
50 g or so butter, chopped
50 g milled nuts
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Mix the berries with the juice in an ovenproof dish. Mix the flour and granola in a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the nuts. Spread the crumble mix over the berries, dot the surface with butter and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve with crème fraiche, custard or cream.
*Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2004) 52; 4026-4037


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