Each week I chat with Matt Swaim, Sacred Heart Radio, about Bible foods and herbs. Today the topic was bramble berries:
Luke 6:44-45 – For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit….for figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush…”
One of the first things people notice in the Middle East is the large number of thorny plants: briers, brambles and thorn bushes are common.Scholars think the brambles are from a kind of raspberry, which are members of the rose family. They grow abundantly in Palestine and other Bible lands, along roadsides and in fields.
I always think of the crown of thorns when I pick bramble berries.
What did they look like?
The berries would have been much smaller than what is available today. I have thornless blackberries in my garden, but I still like to go along the woods and railroad tracks and gather wild berries. The wild berries remind me more of the Biblical berries and when you have to work a bit to get them.
What has the medicinal value been throughout history?
The Greeks used blackberries as a remedy for gout. And blackberries have been used to treat fevers and digestive problems for more than 2000 years. Now it wasn’t so much the fruit that was used but the root, bark and leaf were boiled in water and given as medicine. Raspberry leaf tea is an ancient woman’s remedy.
Berries have lots of antioxidants, and fiber, vitamin C, among other nutrients. Plus they contain a lot of water which is good for hydration.
How do you freeze them?
After washing and air drying, I lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, freeze them uncovered until they’re hard and then I’ll pour them in freezer containers. That way they don’t stick together.
FRESH RASPBERRY PIE
An easy stovetop version of a classic fruit pie. I substituted strawberries today and the pie turned out nice. See my note for substituting strawberries.
Baked pastry shell
4 cups fresh raspberries in all: divide into two, 2 cup measures
3/4 cup sugar or bit more to taste
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons each: lemon juice and cornstarch
Garnish: Whipped cream
Stir together 2 cups berries, 3/4 cup sugar, water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly, then lower heat to a simmer and cook and stir 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
After chilling, fold 2 cups of remaining berries into mixture. Pour into pastry shell and chill a couple of hours or until firm. Serve with whipped cream.
NOTE: TO SUBSTITUTE STRAWBERRIES: First, slice berries (if they’re small, just cut in half or so – they need to be in fairly small pieces to cook properly) and then continue with recipe, increasing lemon juice and cornstarch to 4 tablespoons each.