This delicious berry has been cultivated in Europe for thousands of years, not only as food but also for its medicinal properties. Europeans used blackberry juice to treat mouth and eye infections. The Native Tribes in North American ate wild blackberries as part of their diet and made a tea from its leaves to treat vomiting and aid digestion. In the north-western United States blackberry bushes grow prolifically and the berries can be gathered freely during the season. Berry picking expeditions are a popular pastime.
Blackberries contain useful amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, fibre and pectin. They’re also a good source of vitamin E, folate, copper, potassium and magnesium. If you are keen on incorporating anti-cancer, anti-aging foods into your diet, then you probably know about ORAC (oxygen radical absorbent capacity). This is a universally recognized method of rating food antioxidant capacities. Blackberries are in the ORAC top-ten list. Blackberries rank highly among fruits for in vitro antioxidant strength, particularly because of their dense content of polyphenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid, tannins, ellagitannins, quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, and cyanidins. One report placed blackberry at the top of more than 1000 antioxidant foods consumed in the United States. Previously we would have mainly eaten blackberries for their vitamin C content but today we eat blackberries mainly for their antioxidant pigments and their ellagic acid content, which protects against cancer.
There are over 375 species of blackberry which are closely related to raspberries. The naturally occurring varieties grow in a wild bush of arching thorny canes and can be found in most temperate and colder climate zones around the world. Because blackberry bushes propagate easily and are thorny, they are often classified as weeds and invader species in many countries. Mexico is the leading producer of blackberries, with nearly the entire crop being produced for export into the off-season fresh markets in North America and Europe. The Mexican market is almost entirely from the cultivar ‘Tupy’ which was developed in Brazil.
Making Blackberry juice is amazingly simple
First select plump, firm berries with a rich dark colour. Rinse them well in cold water. After rinsing the berries can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. When you are ready, just juice the berries and then strain into a jug or closed container and chill for an hour before serving.
Blackberry juice also makes great blends with other juices. Try blackberry and strawberry juice blends and the delicious blackberry and kiwi fruit blend. A very healthy breakfast blend can be made by juicing 1 orange followed by 1 cup of blackberries and 3 large strawberries and then juicing 1 cucumber into the blend. It not only tastes delicious but its thirst-quenching as well.
When working with blackberries be particularly careful to avoid getting the juice on your hands or clothing as it stains.