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Get Your Fill of this Late Summer Fruit

 

Easy to pick if there are not too many thorns in the way, blackberries are delicious to eat straight off the bramble or in a bowl with some cream.  

 

But there are several health benefits too

As is the case with most dark-colored fruit, blackberries are high in antioxidants.

The berries are also a great source of ellagic acid - helping to reduce damage to your skin from being in the sun too long.  Ellagic acid also prevents the breakdown of collagen and in laboratory tests has even been shown to slow down the spread of any unwanted cells.

Blackberries contain both soluble and insoluble fiber making them highly beneficial for good gut health.

They also contain salicylic acid which is a compound with similar properties to aspirin.  Could it be that blackberries might help protect you from heart disease while lowering your blood pressure?

 

Picking those blackberries!

We have three different varieties of cultivated blackberry growing in the allotment and I really cannot keep up with harvesting them all as they ripen.  They will happily grow in semi-shade or even soils with poor drainage.  They don't need a lot of feeding.  Just mulch well with organic matter.  We find rotted manure is ideal in the spring when the soil is damp.  This not only gives the nitrogen necessary for lots of new growth but also helps keep the soil cool and damp throughout the warmer summer months. 

The fruit grows on last year's canes with plenty of new canes coming through during the summer which have to be trained ready to bear the next year's fruit.  Once this year's fruit is finished, the old canes can be cut back.

Blackberries need to be black and plump before picking and, if they have had plenty of warm sunshine as they ripen, this adds to their sweetness.

Blackberries also grow wild in the English countryside and I find that local people always have their favorite spot where they go blackberrying with their families - a spot that is often a closely guarded secret!

 

And what to do with them once they have been picked?

Apart from eating fresh with some cream or our favorite clotted cream ice cream, there are lots of other ways to use this fruit.

Any excess can be popped straight into a container with well fitted lid and kept in the freezer for a later date.

Blackberry jam is quick and easy to make with a lovely rich color and taste.

A pie or crumble is another idea when the blackberry can be used on its own or combined with apple.