A friend pointed out to us a few months ago there was a drink on the market that claimed to have black raspberries in it. He then showed us the list of ingredients. It contained a blackberry concentrate but no black raspberries! Every week or two we come across an article on black raspberries and sure enough, there is a picture of a blackberry there instead. If you look closely at the labels for black raspberry products, they either use other berries, or have a picture of the incorrect berry, which only adds to the confusion. Black raspberries and blackberries even come from the same genus and family (fancy plant-speak for being genetically similar), so it is no wonder they get mixed up all the time.
We have talked to many companies and nutritionists that believe that these two very different berries are one and the same. Nobody is at fault here, it’s just that the black raspberry hasn’t had much of a chance to speak up for itself on the big stage yet. Luckily for the black raspberry, we will gladly take the microphone and by the time you are finished reading this, telling the difference between these two berries will be as easy as looking at them.
Physical Description: Usually a rather large berry with larger single cells that bulge out more significantly than a cell would in a black raspberry. These berries contain the “plug” where the stem attaches to the berry and because of that are not hollow like a black raspberry. The berry appears to be glossy than a black raspberry due to larger protective hairs.
Taste: Less tart than a red raspberry, but also much sweeter.
Health: Blackberries are healthy for you in their own right, but do not contain nearly the same levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins as black raspberries. They have high levels of natural sugars, which can be an issue for some, and they haven’t been studied to the same extent as black raspberries.
Physical Description: A small, black-colored raspberry with very small white hairs. Known by farmers as a “blackcap” due to the berry coming clean off the bush without a plug, making it hollow inside. The individual cells of the berry are small and do not protrude very far out from the berry.
Taste: More fruity and less tart than a blackberry. Also contains less sugar so is not as sweet. Has a very unique taste that is not really similar to any other berry.
Health: Black raspberries are one of the healthiest berries on the planet. They are lower in sugar than most berries and also contain a lot of fiber (around 8 grams per cup). They contain large amounts of anthocyanins, and around three times the antioxidants found in blackberries. They are also one of the most well-researched berries, especially in the area of cancer prevention.
Check out this comparison graph that uses ORAC (a way of measuring antioxidant capacity) of different caneberries from Oregon State University Food Science:
If you answered yes to those three questions, you probably have found the rare black raspberry! If not, you still have a tasty berry, but it is most likely a blackberry.