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Saturday, October 10, 2015




Boysenberries are an experimental cross developed by a man named Boysen who crossed the blackberry with a raspberry and got a slightly larger and sweeter berry that except for the color looks like a blackberry.  Boysenberries are more fragile than blackberries and have slightly softer seeds.  They are ripe when they turn a deep purple.  If they are too pale, they are bitter.  Boysenberries are one of the more popular varieties of the blackberry, other hybrids include the loganberry and the youngberry.  Boysenberries are characterized by their soft texture, thin skins and sweet tart flavor.  The boysenberry is large, dark purple, juicy, and intense in flavor.  It derives its unique flavor from the sweetness and floral flavor from the raspberry and a winy, feral tang from three native blackberry species. 


In the 1920's George M. Darrow of the USDA began tracking down reports of a large, reddish purple berry that had been grown on Boysen's Northern California farm.  By 1940, 599 acres of land in California were dedicated to boysenberries. This number trailed off during WW II, but peaked again in the 1950's at about 2400 acres.  by the 1960's boysenberries began to fall out of favor because of the difficulty in growing and shipping  them.  As of the early 2000's fresh boysenberries are generally only grown for fresh market by small farmers, and sold from local stands and markets.  Most commercially grown boysenberries, primarily from Oregon, are processed into other products such as jam, pies, juice, syrup and ice cream.  Since 2007, a hybrid variety called the "newberry" or "ruby boysen"was developed to overcome some of the shortcomings that led to the decline in popularity of the boysenberry.

My story:

When I first heard the name "Boysenberry", the first thing that came into my mind was "poison berry".  That was something I was not interested in.  Poison berries!  No,  thank you.  Well, luckily for me, boysenberries was not something we saw very much of in the produce department.  It was only recently that I learned the origin of the name.  Today fresh boysenberries are mostly available from local stands and markets, not so much in the supermarket.  I felt much more comfortable with boysenberries  in a jar of jam or jelly, or a bottle of syrup.  Funny how a name can have that effect on you. 


Boysenberries are fat free, saturated fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free.  They are an excellent  source of fiber, folate, and manganese.  They are a good source of vitamin K and vitamin C.

Health Benefits:

  • High in vitamin C and fiber, both of which have been shown to help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
  • Contain high levels of anthocyanins, which work as antioxidants to help to fight free radical damage.
  • Antioxidant levels in boysenberries are measured as double those in blueberries, a well known antioxidant.
  • Boysenberries contain ellagic acid, a compound known to fight cancer, viruses, and bacteria.


Boysenberries are in season in late summer and fall.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose boysenberries that are shiny, plump, and firm.  Avoid berries that are bruised or leaking.  Mature fruit leaks juice very easily and can start to decay within a few days of harvest.   To store, remove any moldy or deformed berries.  Refrigerate up to 1 week in their original package.  Wash before using.


You can enjoy boysenberries in a variety of ways.  They are available fresh, frozen, or canned.  They easiest way to eat boysenberries is out of hand.  You can also add them to a fruit salad.  They can be crushed and made into a puree, so you can prepare a smoothie.  Boysenberries can be used to make jams, jellies, syrups, or sauces.  You can add them to breads, muffins, and pie fillings  for a sweet delicious taste.  You can add a few to yogurt, oatmeal or make a syrup for pancakes.  Boysenberries are excellent with cream in cereal, with whipped cream, or on ice cream.  They can be used to make sorbet or ice cream.  They can be used in cobblers and deep dish pies.

So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

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