Just like its sister fruit, the raspberry, the blackberry enjoyed pride of place in Greek mythology. It was said that it sprang from the blood shed by Titans in their wars against the gods. The Bible also make many references to the blackberry, which is quite logical as the bramble bush has been growing almost everywhere for as long as anyone can remember.
The black mulberry tree comes from Iran and spread to Europe via Greece and the Mediterranean.
For many centuries, the blackberry was widely consumed for its medicinal properties. It was useful (according to Pliny) in combating the "venoms of the most dangerous snakes", had the power to "suppress the flow of women", to strengthen gums and heal mouth ulcers, and to neutralize diarrhea. The Gypsies of Spain used a mixture of mulberry fruits and leaves to give their animals energy.
Whatever their origin, select blackberries that are fresh and shiny with no signs of mold.
Fresh blackberries are sold in punnets.
They can also be bought frozen, dried, as coulis (pasteurized or frozen), as puree, or in jelly and jam.
Blackberries can be used alone or mixed with other berries to make fruit salads, desserts, sorbets and ice creams, muffins and other cakes, and pies and tarts.
It is rarely used in savory dishes. There is, however, one old recipe from Persia for chicken with blackberry jelly, and it is sometimes used as a replacement for cranberries in a sauce for game.
Blackberries are quite fragile and should be used as quickly as possible. They can be kept for two to three days in the refrigerator.
Of all the red fruits containing oxidizing substances (vitamin C, flavonoids, pigments, tannins, etc.), the blackberry is top of the class, offering protection from cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
It also contains dietary fiber (the pectin contained in its small drupes) and minerals.
Rubus fruticosus blackberry/common blackberry
Different varieties are cultivated: Géante des jardins, Jumbo, Triple Crown and Dirksen, all of which produce large, black fruit from July through September.
Morus nigra blackberry/black mulberry
Himalaya, Perle noire and Thornless Evergreen are the main varieties. They also produce large, black berries, but are often less juicy than the common varieties.
There is also the Boysenberry, the Loganberry and the Youngberry, created by crossbreeding the raspberry and the blackberry and mainly produced in the north of the U.S. and Canada.