10 Aug 2023
Save or download for later.
Blackberries Unmasked! Like raspberries and strawberries, blackberries are not true berries but aggregate fruits that consist of a number of smaller fruits. They are produced by plants in the genus Rubus of the rose family and ripen from green through red, to deep purple and finally black when ripe in late July.
Battling soil erosion: Blackberry bushes are an important part of a healthy forest because of their ability to thrive in infertile soils. Following a disturbance - think windstorm or harvest - they provide essential ecological services and can help prevent soil erosion.
Berry legends: According to UK folklore, blackberries should not be picked after Old Michaelmas Day in October, as they are believed to have been sullied by the Devil.
Foraging through time: Prior to domestication, blackberries were foraged by indigenous communities and mainly used medicinally. There are records of the root, leaves, stem, and fruits being used to treat a variety of ailments, such as diarrhoea, sore throats and wounds.
The modern blackberry: Since their commercial debut in Europe during the mid-sixteenth century, blackberries have evolved through breeding for optimised flavour, yield, storage and processing properties.
In the words of Margaret Atwood: “That’s good times: one little sweetness after another.”
These small and soft fruits provide compounds that can promote good health, especially:
Zoom in: Anthocyanins are particularly high in berries. They’re a group of naturally occurring pigments that are responsible for their red, purple and blue colours. Accumulating scientific evidence indicates their health-supporting potential.
Diversity check: Each berry type has a specific make-up of anthocyanins. Blackberries particularly contain cyanidin, while other berries contain a wide array of different compounds. By eating a variety of berries, you get a diverse range of phytochemicals, each with its own special power!
As a whole food: Including blackberries in people’s diets was associated with increased fat oxidation during physical activity, improved insulin sensitivity and decreased total cholesterol, in two small trials. As a family, berries have been linked to diabetes prevention, cardiovascular health and cognitive health.
Life Hacks: One portion is 1 handful or 9 to 10 blackberries. Mix up the types of berries you eat depending on what’s available to you. Cooking tips
Our favourite ways to enjoy blackberries
Recipes to try