Enjoy Summer's Best Pickings - Blackberries
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Did you spend an early summer morning picking blackberries right off the vine on the side of the road or at a u-pick farm, or buy the gems at a nearby farmers market or roadside stand? No matter where you chose to harvest them, these berries will provide you with a taste of summer while providing valuable nutrition as well.
Blackberries are a rich source of vitamin C, containing twice as much as blueberries. Vitamin C is vital for our immune system and for cardiovascular health. It is useful in the prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory problems, and protects against cancers, degenerative diseases and infection. It also helps to improve the absorption of iron from other foods eaten at the same time, so is associated with reducing the risk of anemia. Blackberries are also a good source of vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health.
Potassium, vitamin K, magnesium and fiber are also provided by blackberries. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure while vitamin K and magnesium help build and maintain strong bones.
Blackberries are very high in fiber compared with most other fruits. Fiber is important for the gut to function well, makes the digestion of certain foods easier, and helps to maintain a healthy weight. A high fiber diet also reduces the risk of developing fatal diseases like heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Needing antioxidants and other phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer and heart disease? Yes, blackberries contain those too.
When choosing blackberries for optimal quality and nutrition, select those that are dry, firm, uniformly black, and well-shaped. If you are buying them already picked and you notice stains in paperboard containers, avoid those since this is evidence of crushed berries. Arkansas blackberries are available from late May through July. Since blackberries turn black before they are fully ripe, take care to choose only firm, fully ripe fruit. Berries from wild and thorny cultivated types should be glossy black, while berries from cultivated thornless types should be dull black.
When you get your berries home, sort to remove very soft berries, leaves or stems and insects. Soft or damp berries should be used as soon as possible. Do not wash blackberries until just before being used, as this increases the moisture content and will lead to faster decay. If your berries are damp, gently dry them on paper towels. Store them uncovered in a shallow container in the refrigerator for one to two days; after that they will begin to mold and decay. Of course, freezing them in a freezer-quality bag or container allows you to have fresh blackberries anytime you want. Just be sure to leave 1 inch headspace in the container, date and label.
For your free copy of Arkansas Fresh Blackberries, click here or contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.
With my birthday being in August, my birthday cake was always a blackberry cobbler from berries mom picked on the side of the road. So you can probably guess that I love blackberries.
This recipe for Blackberry Lemonade will cool you off on a hot summer day and only takes 10 minutes to make.
3 cups fresh blackberries
7 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 (1.9 ounce) package sugar-free pink lemonade drink
Process blackberries in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. Pour through a fine wire mesh strainer into a 2-quart pitcher, discard solids. Stir in water, sugar and drink mix. Serve over ice cubes. Refrigerate unused portions. You can garnish the cups with mint leave or lemon slices if desired.
By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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