July 5 - July 11
Discover nature this week by awakening your taste buds with plump blackberries.
Blackberry is widespread in Missouri and is eaten by deer, turkey and other wild species. One of the most popular uses of blackberries is blackberry pie, but there are other ways to put the berries and the leaves to use.
Blackberry fruit start ripening toward the middle of July. They are small, green, hard, and sour at first, and become larger, juicy and sweet when they ripen. Ripe and unripe berries can appear on the plants at the same time. When you pick blackberries, watch out for the plant’s sharp thorns or wear protective gloves.
Blackberry fruit reportedly contain powerful antioxidants that help to reverse cell damage caused by free radicals, and are reported to be instrumental in preventing heart disease, cancer and strokes. Blackberries are a good source of the vitamins C and E and the mineral, selenium.
Besides the well known blackberry pie, some people use the leaves of the plant to make tea. To prepare blackberry tea allow 1 heaping tablespoon of dried blackberry tea leaves per cup of boiling water, cover, and steep 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or sugar to taste. Blackberries can also be used to top salads, pancakes or desserts or in making liqueurs, cobblers and syrup.
Recipes for lemon-blackberry custard cakes and blackberry pecan squares can be found online at www.mdc.mo.gov. The website may also be used to find areas ripe for Blackberry picking. Reform Conservation Area, 9 miles east of Fulton on Route O, is just one Conservation Area known as a good place to collect blackberries in the summer months.
To keep track of current natural events like when you can pick blackberries, you can get your own natural events calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
July 5 - July 11