In Oregon black raspberry season is coming up fast (July 1 – July 31). These are my favorite berry so I thought I’d share some facts and a treat.
Black raspberries and “blackberries” are actually two different berries. Evergreen blackberries, at least in Oregon, aren’t harvested until August and are those traditional plump blackberries (see image below) you think of when you hear the word blackberry. Black raspberries look more like, well black raspberries than blackberries. Black raspberries are not as big, are a little more tart and are perfect for ice cream, jam and other treats. I like black raspberries better because they’re not too big and they’re also not so juicy; which usually sounds like a good deal in a berry, but I hate biting a berry and having it squirt juice everywhere.
According to Oregon Berries, black raspberries are the king of all berries when it comes to health benefits. Black raspberries have…
- Extremely high levels of phenolic compounds compared to other berries.
- High levels of anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants to help fight free radical damage in the body.
- Insane antioxidant levels – antioxidants are measured as ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity). The ORAC level of black raspberries is 77 μmoles/TE/g, about three times higher than blueberries.
- Lots of ellagic acid a phenolic compound known to help fight cancer, viruses and bacteria.
Some in vitro studies have shown that extracts of raspberries and blackberries may slow the growth of breast, cervical, colon and esophageal cancers and studies at Ohio State University showed a 60–80 % reduction in colon tumors in rats fed a diet with black raspberries added. Another related study at Ohio State University showed an 80% reduction in esophageal cancers in mice fed a 5-10% diet of black raspberries.
In fun for kids news, black raspberries have such a dark pigment that the USDA used to use them for their dye to stamp meat. This means they’re a great berry candidate for homemade finger paints.
Basically you can’t go wrong with black raspberries. They taste good, look good, have killer nutrients, are fun and work well in an array of recipes.
Can you find black raspberries in organic form?
Black raspberries are closer to wild berries than blackberries and have amazing disease resistance. Often even conventional won’t be sprayed with pesticides. The best way to find pesticide free black raspberries is to check out your local farms close to the start of July. As noted, because they’re resistant to disease they may not be certified organic BUT may still be pesticide free. You need to ask the berry farm what’s up.
If you’re in Portland, Oregon like me, check out Pick Your Own to browse berry farms or visit your local Farmers’ Market in early July. If you’re elsewhere visit Local Harvest and do a quick search for black raspberries. Another choice is to order a black raspberry plant and grow it yourself.
I suggest that you buy from a local farm always when possible. AND overbuy and freeze if you can. If you can’t buy totally local then your local natural grocer should carry fresh organic berries when they’re in season and should also have frozen organic berries for off-season.
I’ve made the recipe below with both organic black raspberries and organic blackberries. However, you could try another organic berry as well.
Homemade Organic Black Raspberry Chocolate Frozen Yogurt:
- 2 (16-ounce) cartons vanilla low fat organic yogurt
- 2 ½ cups organic black raspberries (or other berry)
- ½ cup light-colored corn syrup (SEE BELOW FOR CS ALTERNATIVE!)
- ¼ cup organic sugar
- ½ cup coarsely chopped semisweet organic chocolate (3 ounces)
In a blender container or food processor bowl, combine half of the yogurt, ½ cup of the berries, half of the corn syrup and half of the sugar. Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. Pour mixture into ice cream freezer container. Repeat. Freeze mixture in an electric ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions. Remove dasher from freezer. Add remaining 1½ cups berries and the chopped chocolate; stir to distribute. Ripen*.
*Note: To ripen frozen yogurt or ice cream, after stirring in berries and chocolate, cover top of freezer can with waxed paper or foil. Plug hole in lid and replace lid. Pack outer freezer bucket with enough ice and rock salt to cover top of freezer can, using about 4 cups ice and 1 cup salt. Ripen about 4 hours.
About corn syrup: I don’t like it or even keep this stuff in the house. While the original recipe calls for it, I use a homemade light corn syrup substitute instead…
Combine 2 cups white organic sugar, 3/4 c. water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar and a dash of salt in a heavy, large pan. Stir it continually as you bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for three minutes or so (this gets the sugar off the pan). Uncover and cook, stirring often until it starts to thicken. Cool and store in a covered container. You don’t have to keep it in the fridge but only keep it for two months or so.
Nutritional Information Per ½ Cup Serving: 175 calories, 3g total fat (2g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 70mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 4g protein.
Recipe and recipe image via Driscoll’s Berries.
Black Raspberry image via Aaron’s Nursery.