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Ingredient Spotlight: BLACKBERRIES

No fruit in my mind embodies the changing seasons as well as the blackberry. Now at their sweetest, they’re the perfect ingredient to spotlight on this first day of Autumn.

I love the rich folklore that surrounds brambles and their fruits – for example, how in the British Isles it is believed that blackberries should not be picked after Michaelmas because on that day the devil stomped on them. 

In honour of this tradition, let’s eat up our blackberries now! In September, these berries are at their juiciest and sweetest; and they’re so good for you, that nothing should stop you from enjoying them! 

This aggregate fruit – blackberries are not a true berry, but a cluster of individual berries known as drupelets – has wonderful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, which make it ideal to help prevent catching colds now that the temperature is dropping. They’re rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and contain moderate levels of the B-complex group of vitamins, all of which contribute to an healthy immune system, circulation, and metabolism. They are also rich in manganese, vital to healthy bone development and correct brain functioning. Studies have also suggested that blackberries may boost brain health by enhancing beneficial signalling in the brain, preventing age-related neurodegeneration, and improving short-term memory. Rich in anti-oxidant polyphenols, may prevent and inhibit cancer. Through anti-oxidant activity, blackberries also protect the skin from UVB damage. 

I absolutely love blackberries in my breakfast porridge – I stir them in just before it’s done cooking so they break down a little and release their delicious sweet juices in the oats; I don’t even need to add any sugar or honey.  I like to top the porridge with some greek yogurt and toasted seeds for protein, healthy fats and added texture.

I love fruit in savoury preparations, and blackberries are a perfect pairing with one of my favourites meats: venison. Try this: make a delicious and quick blackberry sauce by sautéing a finely chopped shallot in a little organic butter with a bay lead and some fresh rosemary or thyme; add a glass of port, reduce it by half; then add two glasses of chicken stock and cook, stirring well, until thickened. Finish by stirring in the blackberries and letting them soften and slightly break down, about 2 minutes. Serve this alongside my venison steaks with swede & carrot mash (recipe in Body Cycles), and kale. 

These two recipe also works great with frozen fruits – blackberries freeze extremely well so, lucky for us, we can enjoy this juicy fruits long after Michaelmas!