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Blackberries Blackberries
All common cultivated blackberries are native to North America. Oregon's Willamette Valley has a climate that is perfectly suited for berry production with its fertile, well drained soil, favorably timed spring rains, summers that are warm in the daytime and cold at night, that produces berries that are sweet and plump. 85% of the blackberries that are commercially produced for processing in the U.S. come from Oregon.

Blackberries are erect growing perennial brambles that bear black fruit. Most have thorns, although there are some without thorns. While blackberries and raspberries are members of the same genus, Rubus sp., blackberries, unlike raspberries, retain their fruit receptacle, or core of the berry with the fruit when picked. Dewberries are blackberries that droop and grow along the ground.

Selection and Storage
To insure the best flavor, purchase blackberries at the peak of the season or as close to it as you can. Seek out local berries when possible, as they are invariably the most flavorful. Blackberries are one of the most perishable of fruits, so choose them carefully. Stay away from fruits that are not true in color, or berries that are soft, wet, sticky to the touch, or appear moldy. Plump, dry, firm, well-shaped, and uniformly colored fruit indicates it is ready to take home. If berries are boxed in cardboard or other paper products, pay particular attention to any dampness and/or staining, especially at the bottom of the container. This may be evidence of significantly overripe, even decaying, fruit. Make sure there aren't any twigs or other debris in the package as well.

Blackberry Nutrition When you get them home, remove the blackberries from the container, check all the pieces, and remove any soft, overripe fruit for immediate consumption or to be thrown away if mushy or moldy. The remaining fruit should be blotted to remove excess water or juices and placed in a shallow plate or pan, covered with plastic wrap and placed in the refrigerator. Don't wash any berries until you're ready to eat them or use them in a recipe, or they will turn moldy and mushy.

Preparation
Rinse gently and dry in a colander or on paper towels and use immediately. Berries go well with citrus, either juices or fruit. There is nothing finer than a simple fruit salad at the height of summer, embellished simply with a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of Triple Sec or orange liqueur. A topping of yogurt, sour cream, whipped cream, or crème fraiche also gives berries a nice final touch.

Blackberries, like most berries, freeze nicely, keeping up to ten months in the freezer. When freezing blackberries, select firm, plump, fully ripe berries with glossy skins, and then rinse gently and dry in a colander or on paper towels. Put them on a sheet pan or tray in the freezer, and when frozen, put the berries in a bag. This way they won't stick to each other and you can measure out as much as you want for your morning cereal, ice cream topping, or pies, cobblers, cakes, and pastries.

When making syrup packs with blackberries, pack the berries into containers, and cover with cold 50% syrup (1 cup sugar to 1 cup water). Seal, label, and freeze.

Combine 1 quart (1-1/3 pounds) berries with ¾ cup sugar to make sugar packs. Turn berries over and over until most of the sugar is dissolved. Fill containers. Seal, label, and freeze.

To crush or purée blackberries, press the berries through a sieve. Add 1 cup of sugar to every quart (2 pounds) of crushed berries or purée, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers. Seal, label, and freeze.

Tony's Tip
If blackberries are to be used in a cake, make sure the batter is thick, or the berries will sink to the bottom.

Tony's Favorite Recipe
Nectarine-Berry Cobbler with Hazelnut Polenta

Varieties
Blackberry Seasons Evergreen blackberries are native, wild blackberries of Europe and are often considered the traditional blackberry, and is medium sized with large seeds.

Hull blackberries are large and plump, but not quite as sweet as the other varieties.

Chesters are tasty, round blackberries that are considered medium-sized.

Marionberries are a native of Oregon, the result of a cross between Chehalem blackberries and Olallieberry blackberries. They are of medium size, dark red to black in color, with medium seeds.

Hybrid Varieties
Baba Berry was found growing wild in California and is adapted to most of the United States. Many acres of this berry are planted in Texas, where they grow 10' tall and droop from the weight of the fruit, which makes them easy to pick.

Boysenberries are considered to be a blackberry crossed with a Loganberry or red raspberry. They are very large plump, juicy berries with a deep maroon color, and large seeds.

Loganberries, a cross between blackberries and red raspberries, have a unique, tart flavor. This medium sized, deep red berry has medium seeds. It produces a very sweet yet tart juice for drinking, is used in pies, and to make wine.

Kotatas stem from a cross of two USDA selections whose grandparents include the boysenberry, two wild Northwest blackberries, and an eastern blackberry. They are medium to large in size, a deep black color with medium seeds, and very tasty.

Olallieberries are slightly longer and more slender than the boysenberry and are a cross between blackberries, logan and youngberries.

Waldos are a cross between two USDA selections with one grandparent being the Marion. They are medium to large in size with a very uniform conic shape without thorns. They have a deep black color with medium size seeds, with a high number of drupelets per fruit.



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