Ingredients

Blackberry

Other Names: Bramble.

General Description: Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are large blue to purplish black multiple fruits. The blackberry is the largest of the wild berries and, like their close relatives raspberries and strawberries, are actually clumps of individual fruits.

They are oblong in shape and can grow up to 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) long. They are tart in flavor and contain prominent seeds. Blackberries are excellent for both cooking and out-of-hand eating.

The evergreen blackberry is native to England, where it is known as the cutleaf or parsley-leafed blackberry. After a thornless evergreen was found and propagated in the 1920s, it became the most productive of all the commercially grown blackberries. The fruit is black, firm, and sweet. The seeds are quite large—its least desirable quality.

The boysenberry is probably a blackberry crossed with a loganberry and a red raspberry. It was developed in the 1920s by Rudolph Boysen. This very large, reddish purple berry is quite tart and has prominent seeds.

Loganberries date from the 1880s, when James H. Logan of California inadvertently (but fortuitously) crossed two varieties of blackberry with an old variety of red raspberry. The loganberry, now grown mainly for juice, pies, and wine, also makes excellent jams and preserves. They are juicy and sweetly tart and turn purplish red when very ripe.

The marionberry is named after Marion County, Oregon, where it was tested extensively. The fruit is dark red to black, medium to large, and somewhat longer than wide, with medium seeds. Marionberries have excellent flavor with the taste of wild blackberries.

The tayberry is a cross of a blackberry, raspberry, and loganberry. It has large, sweet red fruit and was first grown at Tayside, Scotland.

Season: Blackberries are in peak season from June through September, though because of importation from areas south of the equator, they are available nearly year-round. Loganberries are in season in June and July. The short season of boysenberries and marionberries lasts from mid-July to mid-August.

Purchase: Look for plump berries with full, deep color, a bright, clean appearance, and firm, not hard, texture.

Avoid: Overripe berries are soft and may be moldy or leaky. If the hulls are still attached, the berries are immature and were picked too early; the flavor will be tart.

Storage: Blackberries are very perishable and are best used immediately. Refrigerate lightly covered and preferably in a single layer; use within 1 or 2 days. Do not wash until ready to use. Berries don’t ripen after picking.

Preparation:

  1. Just before using, place berries in a bowl of water. Swish around to remove dirt, then lift out.
  2. Gently pat dry with a paper towel.

Serving Suggestions: Purée blackberries with a little sugar and serve raw as a dessert sauce for fruit tarts or ice cream. Top black-berries with fresh cream, yogurt, or sour cream and brown sugar. Make blackberry jams and preserves, adding tart apples to increase the pectin content.

Flavor Affinities: Cream, custard, lemon, lime, mint, pork, rose, sour cream, sugar, turkey, walnuts, white chocolate, yogurt.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com