Blackberries and Blueberries: Recipes to Try

The National Herald

Blueberry pancakes. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

The summer is an excellent time for berries. Blackberries and blueberries are both packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins that can help keep us healthy all year long. When in season, berries are fun to pick and enjoy fresh and can also be frozen for use later on, if preferred.

Blackberries per serving have one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food ever tested, studies have shown. 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.

Naturally low in fat and sodium, blueberries are just 80 calories per cup. They contain phytonutrients called polyphenols which are thought to improve or help treat digestive and weight management issues, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases. High in manganese and a good source of vitamin C and fiber, blueberries are also full of anthocyanins, the compounds that give them their blue color. Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

Though available all year round, blueberries are at their peak during the summer months in North America where they are harvested from April through late September.

Blueberry and Walnut Pancakes

The National Herald Archive

Blackberries at various stages of ripeness. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch of Greek sea salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup blueberries

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center, add the orange juice, olive oil, and the egg, mix until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts and the blueberries carefully so as not to crush them. Heat a nonstick griddle or frying pan until hot. Pour batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle, about two tablespoons at a time for small pancakes or up to 1/4 cup for large pancakes. When bubbly and the edges look dry, flip and continue cooking until golden brown. Serve immediately with syrup and additional berries, if preferred.

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.