Summer in the Pacific Northwest means fresh berries. One of my favorite summer activities is going to a local farm and pick pounds and pounds of berries. We pick so many berries it is challenging to find ways to store them so we can enjoy them for months.
Why so many berries? In addition to their utter deliciousness, they are extremely nutritious. Berries contain antioxidants which help our bodies repair the everyday wear and tear that our bodies experience. Berries contain a variety of vitamins and minerals plus they are a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber is critical for gut health, can help regulate blood sugar, and help maintain a healthy weight. Blueberries contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K. These essential nutrients contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Blueberries also contain significant amounts of Vitamin C which can improve your skin health by promoting collagen production.
Now how do we keep our berries that we do not immediately eat? Freezing and canning are two excellent options. Blueberries freeze extremely well and maintain their nutritional benefits. Washington State University has a document which reviews the many ways that you can preserve your berries and have them available for months after the growing season.
Find a farm near you where you can pick your own berries or buy some fresh berries. Berry picking is a fantastic activity for kids and provides a wonderful education on where food comes from and can allow you to talk to the people who grow and tend to these amazing plants. Farmers markets are also good resources to talk to your local farmers and eat fresh produce. Fresh produce that is grown close to home tastes better and you can discover new foods to try.