Summer is here, and so are the blackberries!
These dark berries are like sweet little gems from the wild. They are a delicious and nutritious source of food that we can forage almost anywhere, since they are found around the Northern Hemisphere.
Blackberries grow on brambles – typically found in woodland, hedges, waste ground, and shrub ground. Brambles are seen by many as weeds, and they can rapidly tangle around other plants and suffocate them.
Blackberries grow practically anywhere there is an abundance of sunlight. The can be found in places where the earth has been disturbed – clear cut and abandoned lands for example or in sites of past forest fires. Most types prefer a balanced, mesic climate, though some species of blackberry grow in wet marshes while others may be found in dry, sandy conditions.
The Nutritional & Medicinal Wonders of the Blackberry Plant
Long used to treat many ailments in British folk medicine, the entire blackberry plant – from fruit, to leaf, to root – has a rich variety of uses:
1. Eat them Raw
Fresh, raw blackberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese.
Blackberries also offer the highest levels of antioxidants among fresh fruits, containing a suite of powerful phytochemicals such as catechins, gallic acid, quercetin, rutin, and of course anthocyanins. These key nutrients work in tandem to protect the body from cancer and cardiovascular disease, slow the aging process inside and out, and boost memory function. They also possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
After the harvest, simply give them a good wash and pop ’em in your mouth for a sweet and healthful snack.
2. Blackberry Pie
A time-honored way to enjoy blackberries, this pie is a wonderful summer dessert made with 4 cups of fresh blackberries.
3. Blackberry Jam
Enjoy your blackberry haul for months on end with this jam recipe. Using the water bath canning technique, 6 cups of crushed blackberries will yield about a dozen half pint jars of jam.
4. Blackberry Ice Cream
Put your ice cream maker to good use with this cool and refreshing blackberry ice cream, topped with chunks of chocolate.
5. Blackberry Leaf Tea
When foraging for blackberry, be sure to pluck off some leaves too – they also contain an impressive array of antioxidants and are especially rich in tannins, phenolic acid, flavonoids, vitamin C, and ellagic acid. In traditional medicine, blackberry leaves were used as an astringent, an anti-inflammatory, and as a treatment for diarrhea.
To make a simple tea, steep two teaspoons of blackberry leaves with one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. To brew a stronger decoction, boil 4 cups of water with a ½ cup of blackberry leaves and allow it to simmer until half of the water has boiled off.
Drink the tea for its antioxidants, to treat sore throats, and to soothe an upset stomach. Let it cool and it can be used topically as a compress for flesh wounds and rashes.
6. A Blackberry Plant to Call Your Own
Though setting out to forage for foods is a fun adventure, you may wish to bring some of your prize home with you. Wild blackberry plants are easily cultivated from a stem cutting and can be planted in your backyard for an endless supply of fresh fruits, leaves, and roots.