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The peak season for blackberries in Kentucky is June and July. Look for firm, dry berries whether you are picking or purchasing.
Avoid containers that are stained because that may indicate crushed or overripe berries.
Blackberries should be shiny and black. Avoid berries that have a dull appearance or have a reddish color. Moisture will increase spoilage. Don’t wash berries until you are ready to use them.
Blackberries should be eaten within two or three days of harvest. Fresh blackberries, served at room temperature, will have the best flavor. Berries may be canned or made into jelly or jam for later use.
Blackberries can also be frozen for future use. Wash blackberries, then allow to dry and package in freezer bags or canning jars.
Freezing foods is the only time it’s safe to reuse flat canning lids. Label the package or lid with the name of the produce and date frozen. Nothing lasts forever, not even in the freezer. For best flavor, use frozen berries within 10-12 months.
A half cup serving of blackberries has 35 calories, 7 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams of dietary fiber. They are also high in vitamin C and potassium. Like most berries, the more intense the color, the sweeter the berry. Add blackberries to cereal to add fiber to your breakfast.
Peaches and blackberries are a colorful combination in the Blackberry Peach Crumble recipe below. Freestone or clingstone are the most common type of peach grown in Kentucky. The season begins in mid to late-June, depending on weather conditions.
Choose peaches that are soft to the touch, blemish free and have a fragrant smell. Never store hard fruit in the refrigerator, in plastic bags, or in direct sunlight. Peaches can be ripened by placing them in a brown paper bag, loosely closing the top and keeping them at room temperature. They will usually ripen within one to three days. When ripe, they will smell delicious and will give slightly when gently squeezed. Once ripe, peaches may be placed in the refrigerator for about a week, or prepared for freezing for later use.
When preparing a large quantity of peaches, they can be treated with a commercial anti-browning agent or use 1 teaspoon lemon juice per one cup cold water. Toss peaches in the liquid. It isn’t necessary to cover the peaches with liquid.
If you want to know more about Kentucky produce and availability, search online for Kentucky Proud Produce Availability.
You can also pick up a copy at the Anderson County Extension Office. Consider shopping at our local farmer’s market and help support local growers who bring the best from their farm to your table.
Blackberry Peach Crumble
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches or 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen peach slices, thawed
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (add separately according to directions)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds, (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into pieces
Combine blackberries, peaches, lemon peel, cornstarch and 1/3 cup brown sugar in a bowl. Pour into a lightly greased 8-inch baking dish.
Mix together flour, almonds, salt and remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar. With pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle flour mixture over fruit.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes before serving to allow juices to thicken.
Makes 8 1/2 cup servings
Nutritional analysis: 270 calories, 14 g fat, 25 mg, cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate 2 g protein, 3 g fiber. Without almonds the calorie and fat content changes to 220 calories and 9 g fat
Joan Martin is the Anderson County Extension agent for Family and Consumer Science. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.