Blackberries ripen in June and July, producing masses of sweet but fragile fruit. The berries must be frozen, canned or eaten within 2 to 3 days for best quality. The fruit have many tiny seeds, which can be eaten, or strained out when juice is needed. Blackberries are delicious eaten raw and can be used in cooking and baking. Use blackberries in any recipe that calls for raspberries.
When blackberries are plentiful, freeze some for future use. Select ripe but firm berries. Wash them gently in cold water and pack for freezing. Freeze individual berries on a cookie sheet, then pack into zip-lock bags or plastic containers. Berries can also be frozen mixed with 3/4 cup of sugar per quart of berries, or packed in a sugar syrup for freezing.
Make Blackberry Juice
Mash blackberries and strain through cheesecloth or a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Mix the juice with water and sweeten with sugar for drinking, or use the juice for making jelly, wine or syrup. The juice can be canned or frozen for future use.
Make Jelly, Jam or Conserve
Make jam or conserves with whole berries and sugar, or mash and strain the berries and use the juice to make jelly. Blackberry jam is rich in flavor, a nice breakfast luxury on a cold morning.
Use Blackberries in Baked Goods
Use blackberries to make delicious cobblers, crumbles, fruit tarts and fruit pies. Use in muffins and cakes in the same ways blueberries and raspberries are used.
Make Blackberry Syrup
Blueberry syrup is a delicious topping for ice cream and pancakes, and can be used as a fruit syrup to flavor drinks and top desserts. Blueberry syrup is easily made by boiling equal amounts of blackberry juice and sugar for two minutes. Store in the refrigerator. For long term storage, place in sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Make Blackberry Wine, Beer or Liqueur
Making blackberry wine or beer is a more involved process, but a favorite in many places. The process takes weeks or months, depending on the recipe.
Blackberry liqueur is easier to make. Macerate berries and sugar with 80 or 100 proof vodka for two weeks. Strain the mixture and add more vodka to taste.