Nothing says “Summer!” like a fresh fruit salad and if blackberries aren’t in the mix, you’re definitely missing out! Sweet and succulent, this fruit belongs to the same family and closely resembles dewberries and raspberries. 

Blackberries, grow on thorny bushes called brambles, are native to Europe, while Albanians cannot imagine the hot season without having tasted them. They are available all year round but thrive during spring and early summer. Blackberries grow well in a wide range of soils although good drainage is necessary and remember to plant them where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.

In Albania, most of the blackberries are collected as they grow in the wild, but recently, due to extremely high demand in foreign markets, there are different agricultural start-ups that have taken up cultivating blackberries in farm portions. It is proving to be a very solid new investment and interest to grow them is becoming hotter in the country.

The blackberry is technically not just one fruit. Each blackberry consists of 80-100 small drupelets that are arranged in a circular fashion, akin to a miniature grape bunch. Each berry has a juicy pulp, a single tiny seed, and measures three to four centimeters long. Blackberries have a sweet, tart flavor, making them a perfect addition to salads or fruit smoothies. They can also be used as a topping for yogurt or blended into savory sauces that are perfect for meat recipes. Blackberries can be enjoyed by themselves, as a light snack (best consumed in moderation) or dessert. The blackberry is a robust fruit that can be easily stored: simply wash the berries, cut off the hulls, and vacuum seal in a Ziploc bag before storing in the freezer. They will keep for several months – just defrost and they’re ready to go!

Juicy and tangy-sweet, blackberries are a summertime berry and a popular addition to salads and smoothies. Their dark color is a sign of their high antioxidant content, and a boon for fighting the signs of aging, cancer, and other degenerative diseases. There’s no shortage of nutrients in this little fruit, as it’s packed with vitamins A, E, K, and B vitamins, fiber, antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, and an impressive array of health-promoting flavonoids.

However, remember that blackberries are best consumed in their natural state in order to obtain their benefits. Freezing them also preserves the nutrients, even though the texture may change.
Much like spinach, raisins, apples, plums and grapes, blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and Vitamin C, but other nutritional benefits include a very low sodium count and having only 62 calories to a cup. The dark blue color ensures blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits. Antioxidants, well-known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers, are a huge bonus, but be aware the berries are best consumed in their natural state to get the full benefits.

Consumption of blackberries can help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue, which is a great non-surgical procedure to make skin look younger. Prolonged consumption also helps keeps your brain alert, thereby maintaining clarity of thought and good memory. The high tannin content of blackberries provides a number of benefits to reduce intestinal inflammation, alleviate hemorrhoids and soothe the effects of diarrhea. It is important to incorporate berries in your diet in a variety of ways. Have them as a snack or in your cereal or even as a smoothie.

Traditionally, the leaves and barks of the plant have also been consumed. The leaves of blackberries have been used to treat mild inflammation of the gums and sometimes even sore throats. The astringent tannins are effective in oral hygiene when used as a gargle or mouthwash. The leaves can also be used in a refreshing cup of tea or enhanced as a therapeutic drink. Not everyone will like the flavour, so to mask the bitter taste, honey or another form of sweetener may be added. 

The healthy dose of Vitamin K aids in muscle relaxing, so some women use the berries to alleviate labour pains. As part of a regular diet, the juice can also be used to regulate menstruation as it is very effective in helping blood to clot./AgroWeb.org/