It’s a type of blackberry that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of Oregon State University’s breeding program. Introduced in 1956, the marionberry is a cross between two blackberry varieties (cultivars) known as Ollalieberry and Chehalem. They start out red and when fully ripe, are a deep purple. It came from Marion County, Oregon and that’s where the berry got its name. A marionberry looks similar to a standard blackberry, except the size is bigger and it’s more cone-shaped. Unlike the common Evergreen blackberry, the marionberry is sweeter and juicier. It still has hints of tartness but the sugar is stronger. This complex yet earthy taste has been compared to Cabernet grapes. One way to describe the flavor is to imagine crossing a blackberry with a red raspberry. Still tart, but sweeter.
Benefits of marionberry
1. More antioxidants than typical blackberries – ORAC values testing tells us that marionberries have slightly more antioxidant activity than evergreen blackberries, which is a type one is much more likely to encounter at the grocery store. The overall antioxidant advantage is small, except for one big difference, anthocyanins. Those are the pigments which give the berries their color. Aside from being antioxidants, they may offer other health advantages.Marion blackberries contain 70% more anthocyanins versus Evergreen.
2. May influence genes related to weight loss – One perk that anthocyanins are being studied for is weight loss. Using cultured human fat cells in the lab, Japanese scientists isolated from purple corn the same type of anthocyanins; cyanidin and cyanidin 3-glucoside (C3G). They observed anti-obesity and anti-aging effects in cells when exposed to minute amounts of these. There was more secretion of adiponectin, which is a hormone that helps reduce feelings of hunger. The AMPK pathway had activity that was over 50% higher. Higher AMPK activity, such as that seen in young and fit individuals, is linked to a healthier weight and metabolic profile. Lower AMPK activity is associated with type 2 diabetes and sedentary lifestyles. This is why you want to boost your AMPK.
3. Low calorie – Setting aside gene expression, these are the perfect food for dieting. One cup of fresh and juicy marion clock in at only 75 calories.
4. High fiber – One cup of fresh marionberries contains 7.6g of fiber, which is 30% of the daily value. That fiber can also help one feel full for longer, versus all those low-fiber and carb-rich snacks that lead to endless eating.
5. Researched for anti-cancer potential – To be clear, there is not adequate evidence that blackberries (or any other berry) can prevent, treat, or cure cancer. There is preliminary research which infers that certain compounds in them might be beneficial, but a lot more research is needed.
6. May boost brain performance – Nootropics, or brain-boosting supplements, are all the rage these days. Some of the best ones aren’t lab creations, but rather 100% natural foods.
When old rats (19 months) were fed a diet where 2% was in the form of a blackberry supplement, they saw:
Better short-term memory based on the Morris water maze, which is widely used in animal research for this purpose.
Better motor performance according to various tests (accelerating rotarod, wire suspension, and the small plank walk).
Other research using wild blackberries have suggested neuroprotective effects by reducing ROS levels in the brain (antioxidant) and modulating glutathione levels (a natural antioxidant we make). Scientists believe such effects might help slow Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progression.
Of course, rats are not the same as humans, but these are promising preliminary findings.
7. Frozen and freeze-dried maintain nutrition – Being that their season is barely a month long, for the other 90% of the year your only option will be the preserved forms. The good news is that the nutrients in this fruit hold up well during freezing, freeze-drying, and even air-drying.
Adding marionberries to your diet
Marionberries are typically available from July to August, and are usually found in grocery stores or markets during these months. Although this type of berry is usually available fresh, you can also get your hands on various marionberry products, such as jams, teas and preserves.
Because of their sweet and tart taste, marionberries are a common mainstay in desserts. They are commonly used in recipes for pies, cakes, crisps and muffins. People have even managed to incorporate this berry into salad vinaigrettes, glazes and marinades, to add a sweet irresistible punch to their dishes.
The best time to eat marionberries is in the morning or thirty minutes after or before any meal.
Marionberries does not have any proved side effects when consumed in moderation though some individuals may develop allergies. It is advised to consult your doctor before consuming marionberries.
Recipe for Chia Seed Marionberry Jam
1 cup marionberries, fresh or frozen
1 apple or nectarine, washed and chopped into small chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Add the marionberries, chopped apples and lemon juice to a small saucepan over medium heat.
As it is heating up, mash the fruit with the back of a fork. Continue to cook for 2 minutes or until the juices start to bubble and the fruit breaks down.
Remove from the heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. Let it sit for 3 minutes.
Cool and store in a tightly sealed jar. This can last for a week.
Recipe for Marionberry Mojito
Total Time: 8 Mins, Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup marionberries
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 cup white rum (such as New Deal Distillery)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup club soda
Additional marionberries and mint sprigs (optional)
Combine 1/2 cup mint, sugar, and 4 ounces marionberries in a cocktail shaker; mash with a muddler or wooden spoon until berries are broken down. Add ice cubes, rum, and juices to shaker; seal. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain mixture evenly into 4 glasses filled with ice; top each with 1/4 cup club soda. Garnish with additional berries and mint, if desired.
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