With spring trying so desperately to get going, we have warmer weather and picnics to look forward to, and along with that come one of my favorite things ever: blackberries. The ability to go walking around, plucking berries as you go and making a game of finding the biggest, juiciest berry, has always been one of my most enjoyed pastimes, so I wanted to look into the tasty little morsels a bit more before heading into the weekend. Here is VegOnline’s profile on blackberries.
Blackberry Culture and History
Heading back in time, we stumble across the Greeks and the Romans using blackberries for a handful of things, specifically remedies for various ailments. But what’s really cool about blackberry bushes, originally called “brambles,” is that they’re so widespread across the world. There’s virtually no place at all that’s without blackberries as the bushes are strong and weed-like, making it very possible to grow in the harshest conditions.
Part of the blackberry spread is aided by the matter in which the berry seeds are dispersed: animals. Creatures large and small will spend some time eating blackberries, sometimes just getting the sticky seeds stuck in their fur and sometimes digesting them fully, but no matter what the seeds end up traversing a rather expansive area.
These days, you’re likely to hear the old myth that “you can’t eat those berries because they’ve been sprayed.” It may be true in some very rare cases where a neighbor is actively trying to get rid of the blackberry bushes on their property and so have doused them with enough chemicals to kill a small forest, but more often than not it’s just a case of a parent being overly cautious.
However, it’s interesting to note that in the UK there is a myth that claims that no one should pick blackberries after October 11th, Old Michaelmas Day. Apparently the reason is that the devil has claimed all blackberries for himself and used them all as his own private urinal, so eating them will make you sick. And oddest of all, this is at least half true. Not the part about the devil (at least, I don’t think so…) but rather the part about getting sick eating blackberries later in the year. Cold, wet weather makes it easier for blackberries to become infected by certain types of mold, thus making them taste nasty and cause illness in some cases. Strange how that works!
Health Benefits of Blackberries
Along with the usual vitamin C benefits, blackberries are fairly high in vitamin K, folic acid, and fiber, and we all know how important fiber is to our daily lives, right? It also contains a nice portion of manganese, which is one of those minerals we just don’t really pay much attention to but which is actually very important.
Beyond the simple regulars, blackberries are high in antioxidants, which can be attributed to a handful of very sciency and unrecognizable words. We’ll just say that their antioxidant content is high and that it’s a very good thing that it is. Along with more sciency jargon is the high ORAC value associated with the berries. The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity happens to be…uh…well actually it doesn’t really have any specific meaning beyond sounding cool. At least blackberries are high on the list! Maybe someday scientists will figure out why the ORAC is so good!
But hey, there’s still a bit more to consider here. The seeds themselves are actually very good for you as they contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids. I’ve not yet found an Omega-6 acid! How exciting! Anyway, there is also some protein, ellagic acid (oh good, I needed more of that), and some more fiber (I definitely need more of that). If you’re not a fan of the seeds, well you might want to rethink that stance.
Eating More Blackberries
The only real advice I want you to take regarding eating more blackberries is to grab a big bowl, start walking, and pick as many blackberries as you can. Not only do you end up burning calories walking about, you’re able to collect an insanely large number of berries, assuming you have really good bushes nearby. You might even consider growing some in your backyard since it doesn’t take much to get a nice snarl going (the trick is finding a way to control the spread).
Once you have enough berries to choke a bear (but please don’t choke bears with your berries), you can easily mix them into cereals both hot or cold, toss them in salads both veggie and fruit, and put them in ever-so-many pastries. I’m a big proponent for blackberry jam since toast could always benefit from a nice kick once in a while.
Overall, I’m just content sitting and noshing on the sweet berries now and then, and I never use the term “nosh” so you know I must mean business! Why not head outside and go find some blackberry bushes this afternoon? I’ll definitely be on the lookout!