Berries are a fabulous source of antioxidants and anthocyanins; eat lots while they’re ripe in the Northwest, and save some for later, too.
I think there are three things that Seattleites universally look forward to when contemplating summer: The reappearance of a certain glowing orb in the sky, dining alfresco without needing a warm hat and gloves, and local berries. Happily, our berry season runs from June to September, although you have to act fast to take full advantage of the more-fleeting June-to-July strawberry season.
Strawberries are our nation’s most popular berry, followed by blueberries. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, with a mere half-cup supplying most of your daily need. Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, including anthocyanins, the colorful pigments that give many fruits and vegetables their beautiful shades of blue, purple and red. Other berries — strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries and marionberries — also contain some anthocyanins along with other antioxidants.
Antioxidants are important for health because they neutralize the free radicals that can damage our cells and DNA. Anthocyanins are a family of phytonutrients (compounds produced by plants that often have health benefits for humans) and eating anthocyanin-rich foods could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, heart attack and stroke) and cancer. Research suggests that blueberries, and other berries to a lesser extent, may be an important part of a brain-healthy diet.
The anthocyanins in berries are delicate, and while cooking degrades them, freezing does not. That’s great news if you grow, buy, or pick fresh berries in season and want to enjoy them year round. It’s also nice if you tend to buy your berries already frozen. Even when you get your fill of fresh, in-season berries, it’s fun to extend the season so you can reclaim a little taste of summer once the rain…