Make the most of sun-kissed berries
Make sun-kissed summer berries part of your fun in the sun this summer. Nibble them, sip them, or slurp them in these unique and delicious recipes that the whole family will love. Or just dive right into a bowl of these freshly picked summer diamonds.
You know summer has officially started once fresh local berries hit the scene, and strawberries are first out of the gate. Unlike those giant waterlogged berries from the south, our local berries burst with flavour in their perfect heart-shaped package. As with most berries, their deep rich colour and bright hue is a guarantee that, on top of sweet delicious flavour, there’s a hidden wealth of health benefits. Here’s why you want to add more strawberries, as well as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, to your diet.
Strawberries are packed with antioxidants (anthocyanin) and vitamin C, which help protect eyes and skin from damaging UV rays. Plus, vitamin C ramps up collagen production needed to help keep skin elastic and looking fresh (don’t forget the sunscreen, though!).
Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are sources of folate. Folic acid is essential for women planning pregnancy. While it’s advised to increase folate levels for at least three months before conception to help reduce the risk of birth defects, it’s also beneficial during the early stages of pregnancy for the baby’s brain development, cell growth, and other functions.
Seedy berries are great sources of fibre. Blackberries in particular are very high in fibre compared to most other fruits. A diet rich in fibre will keep you feeling fuller longer, and will help slow the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, preventing spikes in insulin levels. Besides improving the digestive system, fibre may also be linked to better immune health by reducing the effects of inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Freeze berries right after picking and washing. Local, freshly picked berries tend to have more nutrients than those that have travelled, as berries begin to lose their nutrients soon after picking. Spread berries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least one hour. Divide into smaller portions, label, and freeze for up to one year.
If you’re not plucking robust berries from your own backyard, then watch out for fresh pints arriving at your local farmers’ market.
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The best rule of thumb for keeping berries fresh and mold free is to wash them just before you’re ready to eat. However, if you must wash in advance, then extend their shelf life by giving them a vinegar bath. The vinegar kills mold and bacteria.
Mix 1 cup (250 mL) vinegar with 3 cups (750 mL) water. Dunk berries; gently shake off excess, then spread flat, in a single layer, on a towel-lined tray. Refrigerate for up to five days. Store unwashed berries at room temperature for up to two days.