The humble blackberry comes into its own as the subject of a lovely old German folk song, which we’ve made a feeble attempt at translating here:
“A basketful, what’s the use?
A hand will surely do;
In my father’s garden,
Yes, the blackberry garden,
There’s enough for me and you!”
Lucky are they who can count this beautiful Rosaceae family member and its delectable fruit among the highlights of their own garden. Blackberries are chock full of vitamins, including provitamin A (which is good for the eyes) and vitamin C (the many benefits of which are likely familiar to most). Already known for its medicinal properties in ancient times, the blackberry continues to provide us with antioxidants that protect our cells and many of the minerals our bodies need. The fruit originated from Eurasia and North America, but has since spread throughout the world’s temperate climates. A distinction is made between trailing and erect blackberry plants, both of which feature a great many thorns and shoots that can grow up to three metres long to form virtually impenetrable hedges (you may recall Sleeping Beauty, who fell into a deep slumber behind one of these thorny thickets before being awoken by her prince’s kiss). These plants are typically evergreen, retain their leaves through the winter, and blossom after their second year into a rosy splendour that lasts from June to August. The blue-tinged blackberries, which contain a small stony kernel, ripen from July to October. In strict botanical terms, however, they aren’t berries at all, but an “aggregate fruit”. The proper time to pick blackberries is when they come off the branch without a fight – although the right amount of sweetness is, of course, a matter of taste. Meanwhile, those who can’t bear the thought of braving the winter months without their home-grown delicacy are in luck once more: Blackberries are perfect for freezing.