Summer berries

For too many reasons to count, summer is the best season for eating. First there is all the homegrown, seasonal produce, tomatoes, beans, salad leaves - and then there is the outdoor grilling - smoky meats, light seafood and charred vegetables - and of course its also ice cream season. One of summer's greatest offerings, however, is the abundance of berries.


Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

They’re delicious, nutritious, and provide a number of impressive health benefits.


Strawberries


These are the crown jewel of summer berries. Grown locally and ready to pick in June and July! Wild strawberries are also popular in our house for topping a dessert or eating for breakfast. The seedy and sweet strawberry is delicious in everything from jam to muffins. It also fights cancer and boosts immunity. You can eat them whole, cut them up for fruit salads or to top cake. They make a great crumble (strawberry and rhubarb). We love a simple bowl with nothing on, or of course dipped in dark chocolate is a naughty but nice way to enjoy them!


This Waitrose easy cheesecake recipe has been brilliant for picnics and an easy dessert to make ahead of time for weekend entertaining.




Blueberries


I first came across blueberries in Canada, growing in wild bushes low to the ground. We love them in muffins and pancakes! These sky-colored gems are sweet, tangy and deserving of the “beauty food” label. Their powerful combination of vitamins and minerals promises both weight loss and anti-aging effects (hence, I have a handful for breakfast most days!)


Good blueberries are firm, deep blue and not crushed.


Raspberries

There are two types of raspberry plants: summer, which bear fruit once in the summer and the Autumn variety which are ready to pick in late September/October time. Raspberries do very well in our gardens in the UK, I guess its a cooler climate and their peak season is now!


Raspberries should have a deep colour and shouldn't be soft or mouldy. Raspberries only last 2-3 days in the fridge so eat them as quickly as possible and they freeze well. They are fabulous on there own, or piled high on ice cream or meringues. A simple trick, from a friend, is to freeze your raspberries to pop in to your cocktail or gin and tonic to keep it cool!


Blackberries


Blackberries range from sweet to tart, which makes them most versatile for baking, cooking and making jam. Already on my walks I am seeing bushes of blackberries ready for the Autumn picking! Remember blackberries won't ripen after they have been picked so you want to choose beautiful, firm, dark berries. If they smell fragrant, they will taste good.


Blackberries again freeze well, just spread them out like the other berries so they don't all stick together!


Health benefits : Just one cup of blackberries has 30 milligrams vitamin C or about 40% of the RDA for men and women. While calcium is important for bone health, vitamin C is also crucial for building and maintaining strong bones. Plus, vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and can speed up healing. 1 cup of blackberries has a whopping 8 grams of fibre or around 30% of the daily fibre recommendation for men and women.


Blackberries are a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K helps with bone strength and healthy blood coagulation. Blackberries get their dark, rich color from anthocyanins, compounds that may protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of conditions like dementia.


FREEZING FRESH BERRIES




The rule is don't wash your berries, until you are ready to eat them! They will keep for a couple of days in the fridge or if you want to freeze them, wash and let them dry completely. To freeze them, spread out on a baking sheet for at least an house then place in bags, ready for that smoothie!




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