Blackthorn (berry): useful properties and contraindications
Blackthorn is a plant that many people know only thanks to the Bible, because it was from it a wreath was woven for Jesus. However, many people do not even realize that this plant is a treasure trove of benefits for humans and can be used in everyday life. Today, thorn is used in medicine, as well as in cooking.
- What are thorns
- What is the difference between thorns and plums
- Composition and calories
- Useful properties of thorns
- General benefits
- For Women
- For Men
- In pregnancy
- For children
- Turnip in medicine
- Diabetes mellitus
- In pancreatitis
- With gout
- Harm and Contraindications
- How to harvest and store sloe berries
- Can I freeze my sloe berries?
- Can any sloe be dried?
- What can be made from blackthorns: Recipes
- Tkemali sauce
- Dried blackthorn
- Interesting facts about blackthorn
What are thorns
In appearance, thorns are shrubs which can reach up to five meters in height. Some of its varieties are more like low trees. Thorns are characterized by a large number of tenacious thorns located throughout the entire shrub.
Like most shrubs, thorns bloom, usually from April to May, the exact time depending on the region of cultivation. It is not difficult to recognize a flowering blackthorn because the entire bush is covered with very beautiful white flowers. Bees actively collect pollen and nectar when the plant is in bloom, which is why thorns are considered honeybees.
The leaves are oval in shape with denticles along the edges. Leaves are generally about 5 centimeters long. The wood of thorn bushes is fairly strong and has a reddish-brown tint. It is used to make a variety of products.
Blackthorn grows mostly in the steppes, forest-steppes, as well as in forest clearing and forest edges. It also often grows near rivers and along roadsides, forming impassable barriers with its bushes. The roots are very long and penetrate deep into the ground, thus strengthening slopes and preventing landslides and mudslides. For this reason these plants are often planted purposefully in areas where the soil is prone to erosion. In addition, thorns are also used for decorative purposes, sometimes planted in the home landscape.
The area of distribution begins from the western European part of the country and extends to Asia Minor, Ukraine, Tatarstan and Iran. Thorns can be found very high in the mountains, up to 1600 m above sea level.
Blackthorn also has fruits, which are small berries with a diameter of only about 12 mm, rounded and dark blue in color.
What is the difference between thorns and plums?
In the scientific environment there is a slightly different name, namely, prickly plum. If you look at this plant, you will understand why it is so called. The fact is that outwardly it does look like a plum, only with slightly different fruits and thorns. However, there are fundamental differences between these related plants:
First, unlike its relatives, thorns are more resistant to frosts and, in general, are not particularly fastidious to external conditions. Blackthorn bushes do not require ideal growing conditions.
Secondly, plum and cherry plum are more of a home crop that is often grown by gardeners. Blackthorn, on the other hand, is rarely found in the home garden. This is primarily due to the fact that the fruits of thorns are not very popular with people, they have a very tart and sour taste. Moreover, it is very difficult to collect such fruits because of the large number of thorns on the branches.
Thirdly, unlike related crops, thorns are usually grown for technical purposes or in the wild.
Blackthorn also differs in its flowering process. In this case, it is covered with flowers somewhat later than other plum species. At the same time, the flowers appear even earlier than the leaves. You can also enjoy the ripe fruits of thorns quite late, at the end of August or the beginning of September. This is when the blackthorn bushes are covered with a large number of small blue berries about 1.5 cm long. Blackthorn bears fruit quite steadily and annually, and external conditions have little influence on this process. Flowering and fruiting blackthorn can also be found during times of drought.
Composition and Calories
The caloric value of thorns, like most fruits, is not high. There are only about 54 calories per 100 grams of the product. However, at the same time, thorn fruits are rich in various substances. They contain such components:
- essential oil;
- organic acids;
- various vitamins: A, PP, E, C, B1, B2;
- aromatic substances;
Because of the content of tannins in thorn fruits, they are very rarely removed in August-September after ripening. This is due to the fact that at this time, sloe plums are practically inedible. It is better to harvest them at a later stage, after the first frost. Just from one bush you can collect up to 15 kilograms of fruit, and such plum is very easy to transport because it does not crumple and does not spoil.
Useful properties of thorns
Most plants have any additional bonuses-benefits for the human body. Thorn in this case is no exception. The surprising thing is that absolutely all parts of this shrub - from the leaves to the roots - can be used for therapeutic purposes.
Blackthorn berries can be used both fresh and dried. And in both versions they will have a lot of useful properties:
- Make bowel function easier and faster by improving the microflora. The fruit can be used to combat flatulence.
- They are able to cleanse the body from various toxic substances and toxins.
- They are a remedy for insomnia, as well as a mild sedative.
- Good against shortness of breath and nausea.
- Help fight excess weight due to the fact that the sloe plum has a beneficial effect on metabolic processes, as well as being a real fat burner.
- Help make the walls of blood vessels much stronger, thus significantly reducing the risk of heart disease, as well as normalize blood pressure, reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood.
- Able to speed up the treatment of liver and kidney disease.
- Significantly increase the body's immune resistance.
- Restore balance in the mouth, strengthen the gums and, consequently, reduce bleeding.
Thorn plum flowers are rarely consumed fresh. As a rule, they are collected, dried, and then stored in special jars in a cellar or other dark place. Most often the flowers are used to prepare decoctions and infusions, which also have a therapeutic effect:
- Make the blood cleaner, rid the body of toxins.
- Strengthen the nausea and diuretic effect.
- Help remove various inflammations on the skin, get rid of furunculosis, heal pus formations.
- Act as a sedative for neuralgia.
- Make the liver cleaner, normalize bowel function.
- Normalize metabolic processes.
The roots, shoots and bark of the plant also have many beneficial properties. One of the most common is to lower the fever. Decoctions from them are often used in the fight against the flu and colds. Such medicines can also be used as an anti-inflammatory, both internally and externally.
One of the peculiarities of thorn fruits is that most of the sugars in their composition are fructose, due to which in the mature state thorn is quite sweet. It is very similar to fructose, which is part of honey, so the fruits of the plant can be an excellent dessert for women who watch the figure, because their caloric value is quite low.
The composition of thorn fruit has a fairly large amount of anthocyanins, vitamin A and carotene. Together, these substances are a means to prevent breast cancer. It is recommended to eat thorns regularly to prevent this serious disease. In addition, it helps to increase the resistance of the walls of the small and large intestine, so that fewer harmful substances enter the body.
Decoctions based on different parts of the blackthorn help to remove excess fluid and, as a consequence, eliminate swelling in different parts of the body. It certainly helps a woman look beautiful and fresh. In addition, decoctions can be used in the fight against various infections of the genitourinary tract. They can be used to treat cystitis, as well as vaginitis and fungal growths on the vaginal mucosa. Decoctions are also often used for external application. Wiping the skin of the face with decoction of blackthorn regularly can eliminate various rashes and inflammations.
Blackthorn berries can alleviate premenstrual symptoms for women, namely, to eliminate pain during menstruation.
It is not recommended to use thorns for women who have a personal intolerance to this plant or its fruits, as well as those who are prone to constipation.
Blackthorn brings considerable benefits for men's health as well:
- The plant can be used as a diuretic.
- It is a good antiseptic and for this reason is often used in the treatment of the throat, lungs and bronchi of various diseases.
- Fruits have a choleretic effect.
- The plant is excellent against diarrhea.
Infusions and decoctions of blackthorn are useful for men who have problems with the heart or blood pressure. As mentioned earlier, the plant is able to strengthen the walls of the blood vessels, thanks to which you can normalize the heart rhythm, as well as prevent many complications, heart attacks and strokes.
Decoction of prickly plums can also help to improve the genitourinary system of men, in the prevention of prostate inflammation. This remedy will also be suitable in the fight against a hangover, since decoction of blackthorn is able to remove all toxic substances from the body and bring the water balance back to normal.
Blackthorn berries reduce the risk of various nervous diseases, which is very important for pregnant women, because in such a delicate position it is forbidden to be nervous. You can use this plant as a natural and harmless sedative for the unborn child.
In addition, blackthorn berries are valued due to their unique property of alleviating nausea during toxicosis.
When breastfeeding, blackthorn can also be used as a food. Firstly, the large amount of vitamins will help the young mother to recover after childbirth and replenish the lost useful components. Secondly, blackthorn is good for restoring and improving the skin, which will help to return a healthy complexion, which is often missing after childbirth. Often just giving birth mothers have digestive problems and suffer from constipation. Thorn fruits in this case will help normalize these processes and will not let the baby suffer constipation. With the help of thorn plums you can remove excess water from the body and get rid of edema, which is also very useful for young mothers.
Only women who have given birth often suffer from anemia, because much of the iron is lost during childbirth. Turnip contains iron, so you can even raise your hemoglobin levels.
For children, the fruits of blackthorn are most often used as an astringent in cases of stomach upset. It should be said that these berries have quite a strong effect and can stop even diarrhea in infectious diseases.
In addition, decoctions based on parts of blackthorn can be used as a remedy against angina or when coughing with phlegm. In this case, it is necessary to gargle the throat. Decoction from the thorn plant taken internally will help to lower the fever during a cold.
The treatment of boils and pimples will go much faster when using decoction of thorns. Due to its rich chemical composition, thorn fruits are recommended to be given to children for preventive purposes. You can introduce this product to the diet of children as early as one year old. The exceptions are children who suffer from constipation or have an intolerance to such berries.
When losing weight
Use thorn berries when losing weight is not only possible, but also necessary. First, as mentioned earlier, thorns help to improve intestinal peristalsis, as well as the restoration of metabolic processes. Often it is these problems in the human body and lead to gaining excess weight. Their elimination, on the contrary, contributes to weight loss. Moreover, thorn berries - a low-calorie product, while quite sweet in taste, which allows you to use it as a dessert during a diet. The usefulness of the product has long been proven, the fruits of blackthorns are even included in the menu of the Pasternak diet.
Blackthorn in medicine
Thanks to the large number of useful properties, today thorns are also used for medicinal purposes.
For Diabetes Mellitus
It is recommended to use the fruits and leaves of thorns in diabetes. The berry contains an acceptable amount of sucrose and fructose for diabetics, so they can be safely eaten as a dessert, without fear of a rise in blood sugar levels. What's more, thorns help lower blood sugar. Diabetics often suffer from digestive disorders, making thorn fruits and decoctions a good astringent.
However, not all diseases can use thorns. For example, in pancreatitis it is forbidden to take it in any form, because the substances contained in the fruit and other parts of the plant can worsen the situation of the patient. For this reason, it is better to consult with your doctor beforehand.
In case of gout
In gout, thorn is also very useful because it has a beneficial effect on the metabolic processes, thereby removing and excess salt from the body.
In diseases of the vascular system should be used regularly decoctions and teas based on sloe leaves, it helps to strengthen the blood vessels.
Not only for medical purposes, thorns are used. Not often you will find preparations of these fruits in the cellars of housewives, but you should pay attention to such delicacies, because they can be not only tasty, but also very useful.
Of course, in cooking, mostly prickly plum fruits are used. You can prepare from them a variety of dishes and preparations.
Harm and contraindications
Like any other product, thorns can also cause harm to the body, so you need to know in which cases it should be used with caution:
- It is not recommended to eat the fruit of prickly plum often and in large quantities, if there is an intolerance to these berries. In this case, it is better to refuse them at all or at least consult a specialist beforehand.
- You should not eat the fruit of prickly plums in the presence of a stomach ulcer, gastritis and any diseases of the gastrointestinal tract in acute form. Such plums can only intensify the development of the disease.
- It is forbidden to eat the fruit of such a plum when there is an increased level of acidity in the stomach.
- It is also not recommended to eat sloe fruits with a tendency to constipation, both adults and children.
- You should not eat blackthorn plums on an empty stomach, since they contain a considerable amount of acid. It, in turn, can cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the stomach.
It is strictly forbidden to use thorn plum pips in food, because the substance amygdalin accumulates in them. In large quantities, it becomes a real poison, extremely toxic to the body. Actually, for the same reason it is not recommended to store compotes and jam from sloe berries with seeds more than a year.
How to harvest and store sloe berries
If you do not grow thorns yourself, you can find wild thickets of this plant on farmsteads, mountain slopes and not far from the forest. Any part of the plant can be used and harvested, but it is important to understand the best time to harvest it.
The bark is best harvested in early spring, even before the tree begins to bloom. It should then be dried in the fresh air for three weeks and then dried through in an oven. It is better to store the bark in special bags made of cotton or canvas cloth. In this condition it can be preserved for three years.
Thorn roots are better to dig up in the fall, prepare and store similarly to the bark of the plant. Twigs, as well as young shoots are best harvested in the first month of summer. After collecting them also need to dry and put in a dark room for storage.
Decoctions from the roots and shoots can be drunk daily as an ordinary tea. They are good for the composition of the blood, and in general for the body. Such a measure can be a good prevention against many diseases.
Can I freeze thorns
Not only can you freeze thorns, but you need to. This is a great way to prepare the fruits of this plant for the winter. Even frozen thorns can be used therapeutically. Freezing is a safe way to preserve the fruit, and practically all of its useful properties are preserved for a long time.
If you intend to use the blackthorns all winter, it is better to freeze them in portions, so you can take them out a little at a time. It is not recommended to freeze berries in one large container. It will not be possible to freeze it again, it will lose all its taste and useful qualities.
Can I dry blackthorns
Dry the fruits of thorns, of course, you can. Such a measure will allow you to prepare for a long time very useful berries, which can then be used for the preparation of decoctions, compotes, kissel, tinctures and teas.
The first time it is better to dry prickly plums in the fresh air. Then you can bring it to readiness in an oven or an electric dryer. Once the berries are dried, you need to put them in dry bags and put them away in a dark, dry place. A pantry or dry cellar would be a great option.
What can be made from thorns: recipes
Blackthorn is a unique berry, from which you can make many beautiful preparations, as well as use it in the preparation of various dishes. Although this product is not often found in our cooking, there are still many recipes for various treats.
Jam from the fruit of prickly plum turns out quite thick, thanks to which it can be used later for the preparation of pies and buns. In addition, it turns out quite tasty, so it can be used to make sandwiches with butter. Cooking jam is very simple and fast.
So, the first thing to do is to prepare the berries of thorns. To do this, wash them, dry them, and then get rid of the pips. It should be noted that picking pips is not an easy task, so be prepared for this in advance. Once the berries are prepared, you need to weigh them in order to understand their weight without pips. Add sugar to the fruit in the proportion of one to one. Mix all this well, and then leave the resulting mixture at room temperature for about 2-3 hours. Then put the preparation in the refrigerator overnight or a day.
After 12 hours, after the juice comes out of the sloe, the sugar will dissolve. Do not be frightened when this happens. Next, simply transfer the resulting mass to an enameled saucepan and put on medium heat. Bring the resulting mass to a boil and keep on the stove for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. After that, the jam can be removed from the stove and left to cool.
As the jam cools down completely, you should put it on the stove again and simmer for another five minutes on the same fire. Next, the resulting delicacy simply pour it into a jar and put away.
Jam from sloe plums is also prepared quite simply. The first thing to do is to prepare the berry, namely to wash it, dry it and remove all the stems. Next, transfer the berries to a saucepan, add a little water. All this boil for three minutes until the berries are soft.
In the next step, rub the fruit through a sieve, thus avoiding pips and skins in the jam. To the pulp add sugar in the same amount as the rest of the mass of berries after grinding. Stir it all and put on strong fire. Bring the mass to boil and cook it for 10 minutes. After that, turn down the heat and cook for about 10 minutes until the jam becomes thick enough. Check the thickness is simple - drop the jam on a plate, with the drop should not run out. The resulting hot jam should be poured into a jar and screw.
To prepare the compote will need about a kilogram of fruit, 200 grams of sugar, a few dried petals of the rose and 2.5 liters of water.
As always, first of all, pick the berries and wash them. Then put all the ingredients in a jar and pour boiling water over them. All this leave for 2 hours, then drain the liquid, boil it separately and pour it back into the jar with the berries. Then it remains only to screw the jar with a lid very tightly and put it in a dark, dry place for storage.
It is better to make juice from the fruits of thorns with the help of a juicer. Take for starters 2.5 kilograms of berries, wash them and remove seeds. Then load the whole mass into the juicer, add 2.5 kilograms of sugar and wait until the machine processes it. The resulting juice just pour it into a convenient container.
To make wine, you will need 2.5 kilograms of berries, 1.5 kilograms of sugar, 3 liters of water and 100 grams of raisins. The preparation is carried out in several steps:
- Prepare the sugar syrup.
- Boil 2 liters of water, then add washed berries and boil for 10 minutes. Make sure that the rind on the fruit is cracked, and then remove the pan and cool it.
- Pour the contents of the pan into a container for fermentation, add syrup, raisins. The container to put in a dark place for fermentation.
- At the end of the fermentation process (usually a month) pour the liquid into a special container. If the taste is not enough sugar, you can add more.
From the berries of thorns you can make an excellent sauce for meat dishes. For this, in addition to a kilogram of berries you will need the following ingredients: a bunch of fresh coriander, 5 grams of peppermint, a little sugar, dried ground coriander, about 5 grams, 3 cloves of garlic, half a hot pepper, salt and half a glass of water.
The first thing to do is to pour water into the washed berries, put on the fire, stir and gradually heat. After 10 minutes, add all the dry spices. Chop the pepper, garlic and coriander, preferably with a blender. Rub the fruit with the spices through a sieve. The resulting pureed mass again put on the fire and add to it grinded garlic and pepper. Boil this mass and add salt to taste, also a little sugar. At the very end, when the sauce is almost ready, add the herbs and mix thoroughly. The resulting seasoning remove from the heat and pour into convenient containers.
This delicacy is prepared very simply. You need to prepare a kilo of blackthorn fruits, wash them and put them in a jar. Then prepare the syrup from a kilo of sugar and 100 ml of water. Pour the syrup over the berries and add a sprig of mint. Cover the resulting raw material from above with a canvas cloth, and then put it in a warm, dry place for about a month and a half.
Interesting facts about sloe
- This fruit contains just a huge amount of vitamin C (much more than currants).
- Blackthorn leaves are wonderfully used as a tea.
- Chefs in some countries use sloe berries as an ingredient that adds sourness to first and second courses. In France, on the other hand, thorns are popular in pickled form. Chefs take unripe berries and pickle them in oil. The resulting product tastes like olives.
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