Blackberries aren’t in season right now, but don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of the freezer section at the grocery store! Frozen fruits and vegetables have come a long way, and frozen berries might be the best nutritional buck you’ve ever spent. Produce is picked and flash-frozen almost immediately–therefore preserving as many nutrients as possible. (Often, many vitamins, minerals and even taste is lost during transit time between the farm and the grocery store.) Frozen blackberries do well in smoothies, reductions and baked goods; save the recipes requiring fresh for summer.
-Blackberries and raspberries are very closely related to one another; one difference is that the stem pulls off the plant and remains with the blackberry when picked, but does not in a raspberry, which is left with a hole at the top of the fruit
-Blackberry shrubs can tolerate poor soil and can be found in ditches, wasteland and even vacant lots
-Blackberry shrubs in bloom yield a dark, fruity honey
-There are more than 400 species of hybrid and cultivated varieties of blackberries planted in North America. Technically the blackberry is not a true berry like a blueberry or strawberry but rather an aggregate fruit; the berry is composed of many small fruits or drupes, each one with a pit or stone. (Livestrong)
-Blackberries are divided according to their growing habit — trailing, semi-trailing and erect — and come in thorned and thornless varieties.(Livestrong)
-Blackberries are in season in the US from May through October
-Choose large, shiny, blemish-free fruit and store unwashed in the fridge for only a few days
-Blackberries are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, Vitamins C and K and folic acid
-Also high in antioxidants, blackberries have ellagic acid (tumor-fighting), salicylic acid (numbing and fever-reducing) and anthocyanins (what gives them their dark color, and may help delay memory loss)
-Toss blackberries into a smoothie, fruit salad or even pancakes
–Reduce a mixture of blackberries, balsamic vinegar and honey and serve with pork
-Blackberries are most popular in crumbles–give this one a try!
-Try this salmon and blackberry salad (photo below): grilled/roasted salmon, greens, sliced apple or stone fruit and swiss cheese topped with a little balsamic dressing
Blackberry Chip Ice Cream
This is, perhaps, the BEST ice cream on the face of the planet, and I know my ice cream. It is Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream, which is a famous chain I was introduced to while living in Ohio. It’s their most popular flavor, and for good reason–it is amazing. It’s deep purple, perfectly sweet-tart and their chocolate ‘chips’ are really giant boulders that melt in your mouth despite the freezing temperature. The only recipe I’ve ever found was a re-creation Pioneer Woman made and is published in her second cookbook, but not on her website. I swear, in the time it took me google and NOT find hers’ or one that someone–anyone–else had typed up already, I could have typed it up myself! I’ve made it myself twice, (read about it here) and have even experimented with tempering (or ‘untempering’) the chocolate to ensure it melts in your mouth. In fact, I have some of this homemade ice cream in my freezer right now. Greater’s does ship, in case anyone is interested. Now, without further ado (just take enough time to grab your ingredients), here is PW’s recipe:
2 pints blackberries (frozen work just fine)
1 1/4 C sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 C half-and-half
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 C heavy cream
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1. Combine blackberries, 1/4 C sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until blackberries are syrupy.
2. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Force as much as you can through the sieve and discard the rest.
3. Heat half-and-half and remaining sugar in saucepan over med-low heat.
4. Whisk egg yolks until pale yellow and thick in a separate bowl. Temper egg yolks by splashing a small amount of the warm cream and sugar mixture in and whisking constantly.
5. Pour tempered yolks into saucepan with the rest of the sugar and cream mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, still on low heat, until thick.
6. Pour heavy cream into bowl with blackberry mixture, then add custard and stir to combine.
7. Freeze mixture according to your ice cream maker’s directions. After frozen, add chocolate chips* and incorporate. Store in freezer and let harder for four hours.
*It is preferable to buy a block of chocolate and melt it, then spread on parchment and allow to harder in freezer. Once solid, break into small pieces and use that to incorporate into ice cream. I believe this helps lower the melting point of the chocolate, thus allowing it to ‘melt in your mouth’ despite being just out of the freezer.
Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.