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Too many blackberries?

You can never have too many berries, in my opinion.

Enjoy them by the purple-stained handful, mixed in scones and muffins, tossed in salads, baked in pies, or jammed in jars. You’ll find a way to use them, but be sure you do, quickly, before mold starts to creep in.

This morning, my friend and coworker Robyn and I went out to a small farm in Colonial Beach to pick some blackberries. Unlike the bustling agritourism businesses in the region, the man who owns this farm uses the honor system, along with incredibly low prices for his berries. His dog checked on us a few times, carrying a tennis ball and ready to play, as Robyn and I picked and chatted, catching each other up on our recent trips to Boston and Asheville, and certainly exceeding our antioxidant quota for the day. (Find tips for picking and storing here.)

One cup of berries has just 62 calories, 8 grams of fiber and half your recommended Vitamin C.

Blackberries are much sturdier than fragile raspberries, which seem like they should be used in hours before they turn into a bowl of mush. And blueberries are so small, you may feel like you’ve been picking forever and never seem to have a substantial yield.

I grew up foraging berries. My dad is the kind of person that would stop the car on a busy road in Roanoke when he would see the wild raspberry bushes turn red near July 4. The trails behind my parents house were dotted with berry bushes, and my dad would teach us about the differences on our walks with the dog; for example, raspberries would be covered with a fuzzy crown before they ripened. Raspberry bushes lined my grandparents’ driveway–and I once discovered bees like to make their nests within, leaving my knees stung and swelling. And my aunt and uncle have all sorts of berry bushes, along with fig trees, an asparagus patch and abundant garden. Visiting them is always a treat. (And I’ve already shared my love for strawberry picking with you.)

After this morning’s hour of berry picking, 10 pounds of blackberries are now sitting in my crowded refrigerator, and Google searches are proof that they’ve been on my brain. Should I try a blackberry lemon preserve, or maple bourbon blackberries? A pie or galette?  Big Sur Blackberry Scones or a blackberry gin fizz? A tiny treat for tomorrow’s newroom potluck?

Decisions, decisions. At least I have plenty. (Or do I?)

But it’ll be the bowl full of berries sitting in the refrigerator that is the healthiest, and perhaps the most satisfying.

The health benefits continue: “With their dark blue color, blackberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of fruits regularly tested. Blackberries are also rich in Vitamin C and fiber, which have been shown to help reduce the risks of certain cancers. Blackberries are low in calories, carbohydrates and have no fat, which makes them popular in low carb and low calorie diets.” They also have high levels of anthocyanins, which work as antioxidants to help fight free radical damage in your body.

If any are leftover on Saturday (which I doubt), they’ll make the trip down to Charleston, South Carolina, the next stop on my vacation-filled summer.