Blackberries

In case anyone got through the heading without realizing it, this week’s article is not about trademarked electronic gizmos designed to replace pen and paper. The blackberry is a widespread and well-known shrub, commonly called a bramble in the eastern United States. The soft-bodied fruit is popular for use in desserts, jams, seedless jellies and wine. The blackberry tends to be red or purple in color during its unripe phase, hence the old expression ‘the blackberries are red when they’re green.’ Unripe berries will not ripen once picked. Thousands of wild blackberries are harvested and marketed by the gallon along Texas highways in May and early June. Crops are ready at various times of the month, depending on the part of the state in which you are located. At Sweetberry Farms, the blackberries will be ready mid-May up until late June. Leave early though. On weekends, the fields may be picked clean by noon. Another website to go to, www.pickyourown.org, will let you find some orchards in your area. A bit of History Blackberry tea was said to be a cure for dysentery during the Civil War. During outbreaks of dysentery, temporary truces were declared to allow both Union and Confederate soldiers to ‘go blackberrying’ to forage for blackberries to ward off the disease. As with strawberries, don’t wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator. You can easily freeze berries that you cannot use right away’just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a Ziploc bag, removing as much air as possible. The berries will keep for many months frozen without air. Researchers have known for quite some time that whole berries contain antioxidants which help to fight cancer-causing free radicals. A study at the University of Ohio has found that blackberries are the most potent cancer fighting berries of them all, by nearly 40 percent. It’s the ellagic acid in most whole berries that has been found to cause apoptosis, or natural cell death, in cancer cells without harming healthy cells. One quart equals one and one-half pounds of fresh berries. One cup of blackberries has about 62 calories, one gram of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrates, trace sodium and 50 mg of vitamin C. Blackberries are also a good source of fiber with six grams. Angel Food Cake Cubes with Blackberry Sauce 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen blackberries, thawed or frozen 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1 prepared angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes (enough to make 4 cups) In a small saucepan, combine blackberries and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until blackberries break down (two to five minutes). Transfer blackberries to a large bowl, add angel food cake cubes and toss to coat cake with sauce. Serve warm or chilled. Next week: Pineapple

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