The brambles are full of ripening berries and I had my fruit bowl this morning topped with fresh blackberries still warm from the canes. Normally, the blackberries are coming in in mid to late June, just slightly before our blueberries are ripe. But this year, everything in the yard has been way too early... We originally planted 3 domesticated cultivars and a gone wild blackberry from a long gone home place on a friends property. Over the years all of the varieties that we bought died for various reason, the "thornless" blackberry just withered in the North Carolina summer heat, One was prone to fungus and I think the other went the way of some other unfortunate upstarts in the yard and was accidentally mulched by the lawn mower. But the gone wild blackberry from the old home place, has proven to be hardy and nigh on indestructible. They have multiplied so much over the years that we have run out of room for them. We have two 25 foot long rows of blackberries, trained to fencing When the new shoots come up now we dig them up and put them in one gallon recycled plant buckets. Occasionally we thin out older plants that have become less productive and replace them with ones we have waiting in buckets, but mostly we give the plants as gifts or sell them.
We freeze most of the berries we don't eat outright. I used to make blackberry jam for the kids, (the biggest kid being my husband who dearly loves to slather jams on hot home made bread), but these days we are not allowing much sugar in our diet, so all those jars of glistening jelly are too much of a temptation. Instead of making sugary jams and jellies, I make smoothies with frozen bananas, mango or peaches and blackberries. I freeze all the fruit and then just grab a couple of handfuls of whatever I want, add orange juice, pineapple juice, or unsweetened cranberry juice and blend into a frosty smoothie that is thick enough to hold a spoon upright in the glass. During the summer months we practically live on these... nothing is better after working in the garden than a spot of shade, a companion and a refreshing, oh so tasty, smoothie.
**There is a better way to store the bananas, but it requires a Seal-a-Meal/Food Saver type vacuum sealer. I lucked out and found my never-been-out-of-the-box, Food Saver at Goodwill for $14,
but the regular price is around $100.00 at Walmart. The vacuum sealer is worth its weight in gold if you eat raw like we do. It allows you to prepare many vegetables and fruits ahead without having to worry about things going brown after they are cut. It saves a lot of time in food preps since you can do a lot of prepping at one time instead of every time you need to prepare a meal. There is also much less waste of produce due to spoilage. Bananas will last much longer prepped with a vacuum sealer as they don't get brown and bitter like they do if you try to keep bananas in a Ziploc for more than a week or so. **
The bananas are the base for most of our smoothies, since they are readily available, affordable, and add sweetness and a creamy consistency without the addition of sweeteners or dairy. I put one to one and a half frozen bananas per person, in the blender.To this we add a handful or two other fruits that we have frozen fruit and enough juice to thin it some and aid in blending. I like mine thick enough to eat with a spoon, but if you want a smoothie you can drink through a straw, then just add juice until you have the consistency you want. Some time this summer I will try to do a blog post with some of our favorite smoothie recipes. I also would love to hear about your favorites, if you would like to share, leave a comment.
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