Tiny, tasty, & nutrient-rich
The summer berry harvest of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and currants inspires delicious fruit-filled recipes.
Those tangles of wild berries in your backyard may well be your own natural pharmacy. They belong to a group called superfruits loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, phytonutrients, and antioxidants—and they taste great too.
On top of that, choosing local berries is also good for our environmental health. Imported fruits leave a sizable carbon footprint and often don’t contain as many nutrients as our own Canadian berry treasures.
The antioxidants in strawberries provide anti-inflammatory benefits for sufferers of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, gout, and asthma.They are packed with vitamins and are an especially good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.
The antimicrobial properties in raspberries are especially helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome. Also, properties in the fruit’s seed and oil are thought to act as a natural sunscreen.
Blueberries score high in their ability to fight free radicals. They contain antioxidants that help keep brain cells alive, heal damaged cells, and improve memory. Blueberries have also been found to reduce belly fat and promote cardiovascular health.
These tasty clusters are packed with antioxidants, which help protect the body from cancer. They also neutralize free radicals that accelerate aging and age-related diseases.
Black and red currants
Similar to raspberries, currants have anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to help maintain electrolyte balance.
How to store berries
Berries are best eaten within a few days of picking and have a very limited shelf life. Store as flat as possible, preferably in a single layer, to prevent bruising and crushing. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature; they’ll have a fuller flavour and taste better. Wash berries immediately before eating.
To freeze, arrange berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. When firm, store in heavy freezer bags. Label with name and date and freeze up to one year.
Tip: Use a straw to suck as much air as possible out of the freezer bags. This will help prevent freezer burn.
Plant and pick
When to plant
When to pick
|Strawberries||After the last frost in early spring, as soon as possible after buying them. For small spaces or balconies, grow in terra cotta pots designed with pockets.||mid-June and early July|
|Raspberries||Early spring or fall. Place near a fence or use stakes to support canes.||late June to July|
Fall or spring in acidic soil. Plant 2 or more varieties to ensure pollination.
|late July to August|
|Spring or fall. Place near a fence or large structure to support rambling canes.||July, August, and early September|
|Black currants||Late spring. May take up to 3 years for first fruit.||June to July|
|Early spring or fall. Plant in moist, shaded areas.||June|
Did you know?
Just one serving of blackberries (1/2 cup or 125 mL) will provide about 20 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamins C and K, manganese, and dietary fibre. Be sure to chew this berry’s nutrient-rich seeds to help release healthy omega-3 fatty acids.