Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blackberries - the time to pick is nearing...

Personally I think blackberries are one of the most underrated fruit, and with this year’s crop being bigger and more numerous, and supermarkets like Tesco charging £2 for a 250g punnet, why not get out picking?

Not only is blackberry picking a great past time to try with the family, it’s a great opportunity to get children interested in fruit, get some fresh air and save some money! Try going to a local wood or site where you know they grow in the wild, and pick the berries that have turned black, avoiding unripe green or red ones. Blackberries also offer the following fantastic health benefits, whether eaten fresh, or cooked.

Health benefits:

1.       Rich in Vitamin C – being one of the few mammals that cannot produce their own source of Vitamin C, it is essential to our diet. It helps protect cells and keep them healthy. It is necessary for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissues and organs. It can be helpful towards boosting immunity, protecting eyes against UV rays, and promoting healthy skin. With an average serving of strawberries providing more than half your daily requirements, it is a great way to help stay on top this summer.

2.       Very low in sodium – making them suitable for those following a low sodium diet and with those with high blood pressure

3.       Low in fat – blackberries are rich in vitamins and minerals, providing many health benefits and only contain 62 calories a cup

4.       Rich in anti-oxidants – The dark blue colour ensures blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers, are a huge bonus, and also help lower blood pressure

5.       Rich in tannins – The health benefits of tannins are still widely debated, however there are claims that the high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits to reduce intestinal inflammation, alleviate hemorrhoids and soothe the effects of diarrhea.

6.       Contains a natural anti-inflammatory – Can be helpful after intense exercise to reduce inflammation in the joints, and aid in mild cases of arthritis.

7.       Rich in Vitamin K – Vitamin K aids in blood clotting and wound healing, and can aid in keeping strong and healthy bones.

8.       High in fibre – adequate fibre intake can aid digestion and regular bowel movements, and prevent against certain cancers.

Recipe time!

Blackberries are incredibly versatile, and can be made into Jam for long term storage, or made into ready to cook or freeze pies and crumbles that can be brought out at any time and cooked from frozen to create great desserts. My favourite is blackberry and apple crumble, this recipe is one taken from the ‘Frozen Cookery Book’ and modified slightly to taste.
Blackberry and Apple Crumble

·         3 large apples (sharp tasting not sweet)
·         8oz of blackberries
·         5oz of caster sugar
·         1 pinch of cinnamon
·         4oz of diced unsalted butter
·         8oz plain flour
·         6 ½ oz caster sugar

1.       Preheat oven to 200°C, gas mark 6.
2.       Peel, core and slice the apples to the thickness of about a fifty pence coin, sprinkle the cinnamon on the sliced apples.
3.       Layer the apples and blackberries in your oven-proof dish alternatively sprinkling the 5oz of caster sugar equally amon the layers.
4.       Next take your softened diced butter and flour and rub together using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the sugar mixing it together softly making your topping - you can add in oats, nuts and seeds if you like here.
5.       Add the topping ontop of the fruit and press down with the back of a cold, dry metal spoon.
6.       Pop the crumble in the oven for 45 minutes on the middle shelf. If the top browns too quickly, pop some tin foil over the top to prevent it from burning. When you take it out, the topping should be crisps and slightly crumbly and the cooked fruit should be seeping through at the sides.
7.       Serve with custard or ice cream! This is a great recipe to make with your kids, and can be frozen before cooking and cooked at a later date from frozen.

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