Why Are Blackberries Bitter ? Here’s How To Fix Them

Blackberries, like most berries, are a hit or miss. You either buy a carton that’s divine and worth the extra penny, or you find the saddest little things ever. There is no in-between. So what do you do when you find yourself with a carton of bitter blackberries ? Can you try and fix them ? Can you still use them ?

Why are blackberries bitter in the first place ? What triggers their sweet aroma, and why isn’t it there ? All this and more, coming right up.

blackberries bitter

Why are blackberries bitter ?

Blackberries may be bitter fir a number of reasons, most of them relating to poor growing conditions (lack of water), low temperature like a cold snap, or the blackberries were simply picked too soon.

Most of the bitterness in a blackberry is found in the core, which always comes with the fruit. When you pick raspberries, the core stays on the plant, while blackberries come with the core still attached to the fruit. It cannot be cut or ripped off, it’s always part of the fruit.

So in short, bitter blackberries are a fairly common occurrence, especially in times of very unstable weather. Blackberries need bright sunlight to develop their sugars, and if the summers are persistently cloudy and wet, blackberries may not grow very well or very sweet.

Conversely, too many fruits on the plant led to less sugar and aroma, since the plant’s resources are stretched too thin. 

How do you get bitterness out of blackberries ?

If you’re eating the blackberries out of hand and they’re bitter there isn’t anything you can do. But if you’re willing to use the blackberries in something you can fix their flavor.

Adding sugar to any berries brings out their natural aroma, and blackberries are no exception. So if you’re going to cook with blackberries, be sure to add in some sugar. It doesn’t matter if it’s supposed to be a sweet or savory recipe, the blackberries will be is bitter and tart they will benefit from the sugar.

Dairy, but especially high-fat dairy is always a great option for berries. The tartness in blackberries contrasts very well with the richness of milkfat, and if you add a bit of sweetness you’ve already got half a cheesecake. The best options we can think of are cream, heavy cream, cream cheese, clotted cream, butter, and any sort of dessert that uses any of those.

Add the blackberries into a fruity lemonade or make a smoothie out of them. In either case, by combining the blackberries with another fruit, possibly a very sweet one like banana, you can easily get a great blackberry flavor.

Why do blackberries turn red ?

Blackberries can turn red if exposed to sudden drops of temperature. This means blackberries that have had a chance to heat up will have some segments that turn red when suddenly exposed to the cold. The most common reason is picking warm blackberries mid-afternoon and them sticking them in the fridge. 

This is usually mitigated by farmers by picking the fruit in the early morning, when the blackberries are still cool from the night before. 

How to avoid blackberries turning red

If you’re growing your own blackberries at home there are a few ways to prevent them from turning red. First, try and pick the blackberries in the early morning, before the sun has a chance to heat them up. The more they heat up, the more they will need progressive cooling, like first room temperature then the fridge.

Second, you can try shading your blackberry thicket if you know you won’t be able to harvest them in the early morning. The hot air may still warm them, but it won’t be such a dramatic change of temperature.

And finally, if nothing else is applicable, simply harvest the blackberries whenever you can. Then, bring them inside the house and let them cool off on the counter. You may want to spread them into a single layer to speed up the process, and to keep them from squishing each other.

Are blackberries still good after turning red ?

Yes, blackberries are still good after turning red. Despite their color regressing to red, the flavor is still there and the blackberries are still ripe. When blackberries are red and underripe, they are significantly harder and denser. If you try and squish them they will resist for much longer then the fully ripe black ones. 

Why do blackberries turn red then blue ?

Blackberries, like most berries, contain a pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment runs from deep, dark red to deep, dark blue. The red end of the spectrum is reserved from acidic foods, such as blackberry juice. The blue end of the spectrum is for alkaline foods. 

As you cook the blackberries the resulting juice will be dark red, as blackberries are acidic food. However, when you introduce the blackberries to something alkaline, like aluminum or baking soda, it will shift towards blue. 

This also happens as the pigment oxidizes. Have you ever seen the stain from a blackberry, how it dries and turns blue ? We know because we’ve accidentally stained our (very white) kitchen walls with some of this, and watched the stains go from purply-red to blue. A tiny amount of bleach on the stain took care of everything. 

So don’t worry if you’ve got a red to blue sort of blackberry thing going on. The taste will be there, though it may be less acidic if it’s more towards blue.

If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.