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January 13, 2017

Blackberries: They Finally Got The Memo

by Anne Paddock

I love berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, anything with an “eerie” in it.  ~Jordin Sparks

Anyone who tastes a sun-kissed berry picked at the peak of ripeness doesn’t want to settle for that once a year fix (i.e. raspberries in July, blueberries in August, etc) so growers had to figure out a way to give consumers the most popular berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries – throughout the year.

In the early days, berries looked just like their summer counterparts but lacked flavor and sweetness so growers went back to the drawing board and figured out which varieties were not only hearty but flavorful so that berry lovers can enjoy a bowl of fresh berries every month of the year.

canstockphoto18257916Sweet, juicy strawberries and blueberries became available first followed by raspberries that actually taste like raspberries but blackberry growers didn’t get the memo. Those plumb blackberries certainly looked luscious but looks can be deceiving because they didn’t taste as good as they looked. Consequently, blackberries didn’t grow in popularity as fast as other berries.

canstockphoto30173557Blackberries remained tempting (who can resist big, plump blackberries?) but were rarely placed in my shopping cart because every time I purchased a small plastic container, disappointment ensued. The blackberries looked delicious but tasted like sour grapefruit. Granted, my expectations were high. I expected to plop a blackberry in my mouth and have the sweetness explode but instead got a tangy, tart implosion that made my cheeks pucker.canstockphoto28418396

So, blackberries were relegated to pies or the occasional garnish in a fruit salad until recently when a store clerk passed me a blackberry to taste. Skeptical but curious, I ate the berry and couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. The blackberry growers finally got the memo and sweet, organic blackberries are now available at grocery stores nationwide.Driscolls_blackberries

Knowing when to eat a blackberry is very important. The fruit needs to be dark (red blackberries indicate the fruit is not yet ripe) and slightly soft to the touch (key). Allow firm blackberries to ripen at room temperature and then enjoy one of nature’s sweetest treats.canstockphoto12934504Most people will buy blackberries because of the flavor but it is also important to remember that blackberries are high in Vitamin A, C and K, and a good source of Vitamin E, B9 (folate), zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. A 3-ounce serving also has about 5 grams of fiber. Available at most grocery stores, blackberries are sold in a variety of containers but primarily in half-pint plastic containers that sell for $3-$5.

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