Health Benefits of Blackberries and Two Recipes

Blackberry jam cake. (Photo by TNH/Eleni Sakellis)

Blackberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Per serving, blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food ever tested, studies have shown. A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicated that blackberries’ antioxidant content, 5.75 millimoles per serving, far surpassed that of other foods. Regular consumption of blackberries may therefore have all the positive impact on health, athletic performance, and disease risk associated with an antioxidant-rich diet.

The health benefits of blackberries can even withstand the cooking process. Whether eaten out of hand or cooked into a fresh-tasting jam, blackberries are a healthy highlight of summer.

Blackberry Jam Cake

3 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1 1/3 cups orange juice

1/2 cup cognac, Metaxa

1 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 cup blackberry jam, recipe follows

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the orange juice, cognac, and olive oil. Pour half the batter into an oiled 13 by 9-inch baking pan, add the jam on top of the batter spreading it in an even layer over the top, leaving about an inch all around the edge. Spoon the rest of the batter over the jam layer, top with the chopped walnuts, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the strength of your oven. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Blackberry Jam

6 cups fresh blackberries

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Sort and rinse the berries carefully in cool water. Place the washed berries in a large deep pot and add 1/4 cup water. Bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the berries for 5-10 minutes or until the berries have cooked down slightly.

Skim off any foam that may collect at the surface. Once the berries have cooked down, remove the pot from heat. Using a strainer over a large bowl, strain the cooked down berries to remove the seeds, using a spoon to help the process. Discard the seeds.

Rinse out the pot to make sure no seeds were left behind, or use another pot to finish cooking the jam. If you don’t mind seeds in your jam, you can skip the straining. Place the pot with the strained, cooked-down berries back on the stove and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in a cup of sugar, taste, and add additional sugar, if preferred. Stir in a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and continue simmering the jam until it thickens to the desired consistency.

To test if the jam is set, place a freezer-safe plate in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount of the jam onto the frozen plate. If you can swipe a finger through the jam on the plate and it leaves a trail, the jam is set. If it runs together, continue simmering.

Once the jam has thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a large container or small containers, as preferred. The jam may seem runny, but it will set even more as it cools. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.