From rustic desserts like cobblers, crisps, buckles and grunts, to blackberry jam, jellies, and wine, it’s no wonder blackberries made Kentucky proud when they were designated as the official state fruit in 2004.
Blackberries, also known as brambles, are full of natural goodness and simply one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Plump, earthy, and sweet/tart, blackberries are one of the few fruits containing heart-healthy Vitamin E. Their purplish-black pigment indicates they are rich in protective antioxidants. Not only are the berries themselves full of nutrients, but the stems, leaves, and roots contain tannic acid, which is known to be a natural pain reliever. Their leaves and stems are dried and used to make tea.
Even though they are available year-round, blackberries are most flavorful and affordable in the spring and summer months. Their peak season runs from June through August.
When choosing blackberries look for plump, shiny berries with a deep rich color. Avoid overripe berries, which are often dull and soft, and in stained containers, as this can indicate they are past their prime. Since blackberries are fragile, use them within 2 – 3 days after you bring them home. A good way to capture a bit of summer for the wintry days ahead is by freezing blackberries. Simply wash, cut off the hulls, and place them into a food storage bag, removing as much air as possible. Berries stored in this manner will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Since blackberries tend to be a bit more tart than other berries, enhance their flavor by sprinkling them with a little sugar, or soaking them in a little liqueur. Sprinkle them over your morning cereal– or indulge by having them with a dollop of fresh sweetened whipped cream. Smoothies and shakes are a special treat on a hot summer day.
As always, we do have a few of our own berry good recipes for the picking. If cravings come in the way of a good old-fashioned coffeecake, try Paula’s Blackberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping. For dessert on the fly, nothing could be finer than the Deen Brothers 4-ingredient
Ten Minute Blackberry Pie. On the savory side, Paula’s five-star Filet Mignon with Blackberries uses blackberry preserves along with butter, shallots, and red wine as a flavorful sauce to go alongside the beef. And for the classic spinach salad with a twist, we go right to the Paula Deen collection with Spinach Salad with a Hot Blackberry Walnut Dressing, using Paula’s bottled blackberry-walnut dressing warmed and drizzled over fresh baby spinach topped with crispy bacon, hard-cooked eggs, toasted walnuts, and fresh berries. Of course, you can easily substitute blackberries in any of Paula’s blueberry recipes too!
So go ahead and get cooking. The options are endless. Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving a jar of homemade blackberry jam?