Each of the days I've been out blackberry picking I've had all of the fruit to myself. No one seems to go blackberry picking any more. However, today I was delighted to see a young child - aged about four - not only picking the fruit from the hedge, but also eating it, and obviously enjoying it. She was joined by her grandmother who also started to sample the gorgeous, squashy, ripe fruit. How much more natural than pre-packed meals or sugar-laden sweets, or even the unnatural oversized, deseeded blackberries from the supermarket.
Whilst we enjoy blackberries just as they are, my daughters and I also enjoy fruit smoothies. This is one of our favourite recipes:
1 handful fresh bilberries
1 handful fresh blackberries
1-200g low-fat live yoghurt
4 ice cubes
Juice the pineapple and pour into the smoothie maker along with bilberries, blackberries, yoghurt and ice. Add a bit of water if it's too thick. Sometimes I miss out the pineapple and it still tastes delicious.
What's in it: Vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E, fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, beta-carotene, phosphorous, folic acid, anti-oxidants, zinc and sodium.
The bioflavonoids in bilberries are potent antioxidants. In Europe, where bilberry cultivation originated, bilberry extracts are a normal part of nutritional health care for the eyes.
Blackberries are also more than just powerful antioxidants. They are also extremely high in some of the highest forms of chronic disease and cancer-fighting compounds: vitamins C, E, and ellagic acid. They also hold high levels the soluble fiber known as pectin, a substance that studies link to lowered levels of cholesterol.
"The joy of eating seasonally is the joy of fresh produce and fresh foods." Anna Lappe.
Did you know..? Modern interest in the bilberry stems in part from the fruit's use by British pilots in World War II, when pilots noticed night vision improvement after eating bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids.