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Differences Between Black Raspberry and Blackberry

Written by Jenoye Campbell, LPN

Don’t you just love berries?

Especially if you get to have them freshly-picked!

Plus, there are so many varieties to choose from; blackberries, raspberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, purple raspberries, boysenberry, elderberry, mulberry, currants, and so many more.

Berries are packed with a tonne of nutritional value and they are quite versatile, so they can be eaten raw or incorporated into various dishes.

Two berries that are often confused with each other are black raspberry and blackberry.

However, these two are quite different though they share a similar appearance, like color and texture.

Black raspberry and blackberry may vary in growing habits, taste, nutritional benefits, etc., making them two totally different wholesome fruits.

In this post, we will explore what makes blackberries and black raspberries so different from each other.

Black Raspberry vs. Blackberry – All You Need to Know

What are Blackberries?

Blackberries are edible fruits that fall within the Rubus genus and are not truly berries even though their name would suggest otherwise.

Blackberries are actually scientifically categorized as aggregate fruits, which are fruits that are made up entirely of tiny individual bumps called drupelets.

In each drupelet, you will find an even smaller seed.

Blackberries are a superfood that can be found growing in several countries and even in the wild.

They are very popular within the United States and are great for making delicious jams or baked treats.

Additionally, they are quite juicy and sometimes sweet.

What are Black Raspberries?

Rubus occidentalis L. (black raspberries or thimbleberries ) is a North American berry that also falls within the Rubus genus.

They can be farmed and they also grow wild throughout the continent.

Black raspberries are a derivative of red raspberries and do not grow in hotter climates, they prefer colder temperatures, hence them being largely available in North America.

Black raspberries are also grown in smaller quantities in the Pacific Northwest.

What Makes Black Raspberries Different from Blackberries?

These two fruits are almost identical in appearance and texture; however, still have distinct differences that can help you determine which is which and when to use one or the other.

Blackberries and black raspberries are often mistaken for each other due to their similarities in appearance and the bush they grow on, their pies, jams, jellies, and other foods they are used to complement.

1) Their Growing Habits

To be honest, when both are growing, it is quite the challenge to differentiate the two but on very close inspection, you might just be able to do so.

The blackberry bush (shrub) can grow up to three to four feet tall with purple canes and has a growing season all year round whereas the black raspberry grows seven to ten feet tall and has a short growing season.

Black raspberries grow in late Spring to early Summer and are typically harvested in July.

Also, the shrub for black raspberries has fewer thorns than that of blackberries.

2) Their Appearance

On the vine, it is challenging to highlight the differences in appearance between blackberries and black raspberries but it becomes much easier to do once they have been picked.

Here are some key differences to look out for:

  • On the inside of freshly-picked black raspberries, you will notice a hollow core because a piece of the inside of the fruit is left on the stem from where it was plucked.
  • When you pick a blackberry, you will see a green or white inside, as none of the fruit gets left on the stem.
  • The drupelets of black raspberries are filled with tiny hair-like structures, similar to those seen on red raspberries. They also grow smaller than blackberries and have a matte finish. On the other hand, blackberries are much larger, they boast a smooth texture and a glossy finish, making them shinier than black raspberries.

3) Their Flavors

The black raspberry flavor is quite different from that of the blackberry.

  • Blackberries are juicy, fleshy berries and are usually tart in taste. However, if they become extremely ripe, they give off more of a sweet and tangy flavor. If you try to use them while they are green or partially ripe, they will taste bitter and most times very sour. Black raspberries though are much sweeter and add a sweet flavor to your recipes.

4) Perishable

Both fruits can last only a few days after ripening and being picked; however, blackberries will last longer as their core remains intact during harvesting.

Black raspberries spoil faster since they lose their core during the picking process, plus they are much softer.

5) Nutritional Value

Both blackberries and black raspberries are very nutritious. Here is what you get from 1 cup of blackberries and black raspberries:

Black Raspberry
  • Protein 2 grams
  • Calories 70
  • Fiber 9 grams (32% of the DV)
  • Fat 1 gram
  • Carbs 16 grams
  • Vitamin C (35 mg, 58% of the DV)
Blackberry
  • Fat 1 gram
  • Vitamin C 30 mg (50% of the DV)
  • Protein 2 grams
  • Calories 62
  • Carbs 14 grams
  • Fiber 8 grams (31% of the Daily Value (DV)

6) Hearth Benefits

There are many health benefits associated with consuming and growing raspberries and blackberries.

  • Black raspberries are extremely healthy compared to other berries. They are loaded with compounds called anthocyanins and antioxidants that help to protect your cells from damage. The anthocyanins produce the dark purple pigment that colors both berries and have many health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties. However, blackberries have a higher natural sugar content, but they do contain a lot of antioxidants and flavonoids too.
  • Blackberries have a vast amount of health benefits but black raspberries are even better, and as such are nicknamed the “king of berries”. Clinical studies at Ohio State University showed a 60-80% reduction in colon tumors in rats and esophageal cancers in mice with black raspberries added to their diets

According to a 2008 study published on PubMed’s website, whether the fruits are frozen berries or fresh berries, they maintain not only their flavor profile but also their nutritional value and health benefits.

Similarities between Blackberries and Black Raspberries

Throughout this article, we have been saying that these two have certain similarities, and as such are often mistaken for each other. So, let’s look at a few of the more common similarities.

  • Both black raspberries and blackberries (some varieties) have thorns.
  • Both fruits grow on viny plants and shrubs.
  • They both contain tiny seeds.
  • They both have a rich color and plenty of juice.
  • Both are highly perishable and quite soft.
  • The blackberry and black raspberry bushes do not produce fruit in their first year of being planted.
  • They both grow on plants with canes.
  • Black raspberries and blackberries are great sources of fiber and have a low-calorie count.

How to Enjoy Blackberries and Black Raspberries

These fruits are an extremely versatile form of food and can be added to both sweet and savory meals. Here are some ways to use these delicious and nutritious berries:

  • Jam– to make jam with the very ripe and sweet berries, simply pour some sugar, berries, and lemon juice into a large saucepan on medium-low heat and simmer the jam for 20 to 30 minutes and stir consistently.
  • Topping– you can use black raspberry and blackberry as garnish and toppings for ice cream, pancakes, waffles, cobblers, pies, salads, cheese plates, and more.
  • Shakes and smoothies– add them to your favorite milk and blend to your liking.
  • Flavoring– you can use these fruits to add life to bland yogurts, oats, and other food types that don’t have a nice flavor.

Grow your Own Blackberry and Black Raspberry Plants

First of all, yes you will enjoy growing your own blackberry or black raspberry plant because there are so many benefits to derive from it.

One of the primary reasons to do so is that you get access to fresh black raspberries and blackberries.

Here’s how to get started with your berry garden:

The first step is to identify a good spot to plant them, as they need ideal soil conditions to grow. Remember the varying temperature needs as well.

Also, to reproduce blackberry leafy stem cuttings, wait until the cane is succulent and firm and then cut away four to six inches of the stem.

The roots will develop in three to four weeks.

They should grow through fall and winter, then by August or even late June of the second year, you should be enjoying freshly picked berries.

Final Thoughts

Black raspberries and blackberries are delicious and nutritious fruits that you can incorporate into many of your meals.

We believe they are equally beneficial and can be had at the same time or interchangeably.

For example, since black raspberries have a short season, try to enjoy them during that time, and for the rest of the year, you can have blackberries.

Don’t forget the potent antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients that they are filled with, so whether you prefer a sweeter taste or more of a tang, you can use either berries to add that boost to your summer meals.

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