Well the wild blackberry season is gloriously underway, at least in the South of England. And what a great crop it looks like being. This year’s intrepid first fruits are big, sweet and luscious. It's going to be a good late summer!
I love scrumping wild blackberries, knowing it's a slightly illicit pleasure that our ancestors have enjoyed for eons, and future generations will too because let's face it - brambles are pretty hardy things which even the human race probably can't mess up completely.
And blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are so very good for you. Each 100g contains:
- 35% of daily requirement Vitamin C
- 16% of daily requirement of Vitamin K
- 14% of daily requirement fibre
- Moderate amounts of lots of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, copper, manganese,
magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid
But the best thing about them nutritionally is the high levels of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals, such as ellagic acid, anthocyanins, tannin, gallic acid, pelargonidins, quercetin, cyanidins, kaempferol, catechins, and salicylic acid. These antioxidant compounds protect against ageing, inflammation, cancer, and other neurological diseases. But if you pick the berries too soon, these beauties won’t have developed properly.
Mastering the blackberry
You might think blackberrying is a simple pleasure, but if you want to be a successful but considerate blackberrier (of course you do), then there are some ground rules:
1. Only pick berries that are black, soft, and come right off when you touch. Picking before then I a terrible waste. The nutrients aren't fully developed, and neither is the deliciousness. If any still comes off with the fruit, you've messed up badly.
2. Remember you are sharing your blackberry "territory" with an elite group of kindred spirits. If it's perfectly ripe, best to eat it before it falls. Otherwise, leave it for tomorrow's passer-by.
3. Only take what you can happily eat now and maybe a handful for later. Taking enough for a pie is bound to be depriving others. You've got Waitrose for that.
4. Being tall is a real advantage for blackberrying. Use it to reach the distant ones - probably the best - and leave the easy pickings for the little people.
5. The ones far back are for the birds.
6. Drop down to look under the leaves. There are usually some beauties under there that everyone else has missed – including the birds.
7. Try not to touch fruits that don't look fully ripe. After all, you don't want people to have touched the fruit that you are eating do you?
8. Wear dark, thorn-resistant clothes!
Happy guilt free blackberrying! Let's celebrate untameable nature's bounty.
Oh, and do try popping a couple in your glass of Botonique. Delicious, healthy, another treasure trove of nature’s nutrition. They'll feel right at home.