Blackberries can be difficult to get from plant to table. Extremely high in antioxidants, plus vitamin C and fiber, this rambling bramble can barricade its deeply hued, sweet fruit behind a screen of thorns. The 20th century brought a thornless hybrid to farms, but the wild variety in the countryside is well-armed.
What to buy
Turn the clear clam-shell package of blackberries around to check for withered fruit, or reddish, under-ripe berries and mold. If you get home and spot mold, remove the berries affected. Just one speck will spread to the rest by the next day.
Blackberry wine is said to help with digestive problems, and the whole plant has been used to treat sore throats, boils and snakebites. The ancient Greeks used it to cure gout and the Arabs considered it an aphrodisiac. In Europe, villagers planted bushes around the perimeter of town to deter enemies and protect against animals
How to prepare
Keep the berries in the refrigerator and don't wash them until you're ready to eat. Blackberries are great on their own, on top of ice cream, packed into a high-performance smoothie and they make for a mean pie. Their sweetness (along with a little spice) can work the savory side of the street, too.
Cocoa-Coffee Rubbed Short Ribs with Blackberry Sauce and Mascarpone
Ian Kinker of Toast shared his recipe for the abundance of blackberries you can find at the farmers market during July.
5 pounds of beef short ribs
4 tablespoons of finely ground coffee
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground chipotle ( or red pepper)
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together. Coat the short ribs with the rub and place in a large roasting pan and cover. Cook 3 to 4 hours, or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while making the sauce.
1/4 cup of the juices from the roasting pan
1/4 cup of dark beer (a stout or porter)
1 cup of blackberries
1 1/2 tablespoons of honey
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 small tablespoons of minced shallots
1 container of mascarpone
Purée all of the ingredients except for the mascarpone in a food processor; then strain out the seeds and discard them. Simmer the rest in a small pan until the sauce thickens. Smear 1 tablespoon of mascarpone cheese on top of each short rib and then top with the warm blackberry sauce. Enjoy!