Berry Time

Berry farms are preparing for their busiest season of the year: berry picking time! Check this link for the Prairie Fruit Growers Association to find a list of berry farms in your area: http://www.pfga.com/. Be sure to also check out Fruit Share if you’re interested in getting involved with fruit picking around the province.

As you develop your plan to pick and eat those delicious berries, consider these timely tips from Alma Copeland, Saskatchewan home economist:

Berry season is a wonderful time of the year. We read and are told that berries are good for us, and besides that they taste so good!

Berries are generally rich in vitamin C and fibre, yet low in calories. They also provide fair amounts of folate and potassium. But what makes berries special are their phytochemicals, notable anthocyanins – the pigments that give them their intense blue, purple and red colouring. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that fight diseases. Berries rank higher in antioxidant power than most fruits and vegetables.

In animal and lab studies, berries have been found to improve memory and other brain functions, and they may inhibit tumour growth, decrease blood clotting and have other beneficial effects. Cranberries and possibly other berries can help reduce urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from adhering to cells on the lining of the bladder. Though most health benefits are far from proven, berries are an all-around good food.

Recent studies show that saskatoon berries contain antioxidants comparable in antioxidant activity to blueberries, blackberries and grape seed extract.

Berry good advice:

  • Size doesn’t matter, but colour does. For example, blueberries should be deep blue-purple and strawberries a bright red with green caps attached.
  • Refrigerate berries, but to prevent spoilage don’t wash them until you eat them.
  • Freeze extra berries. Arrange unwashed dry berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. When frozen, seal berries in a plastic bag or container. Rinse gently before eating. Use within a year.
  • Store-bought frozen berries are a convenient alternative. Berry juices are increasingly available. Watch out for syrups in canned berries, which add calories. Berry jams retain only minuscule amounts of vitamin C and are mostly sugar. Dried berries may also have fewer nutrients and added sugar.
  • Be aware that cooking destroys much of the vitamin C and folate in berries, but not fibre or most phytochemicals.

With thanks to Alma Copeland, a Saskatchewan home economist http://www.homefamily.info/index.php?/categories/results/a_berry_good_time_of_year/

Submitted by Karla Fehr, PHEc, and berry picker.