Freezer berries, they're nearly as stellar as fresh ones. This week we're embracing the freezer berry in a French-style dessert, the clafoutis. Ours is a grain-free version with a ribbon of elderberry swirl and low-bush blueberries running throughout a crepe-like batter, all baked in a tidy half pint jar.
Nutritionally speaking, freezing the spoils of summer locks in the majority of phytonutrients, studies showing not too much is lost when we preserve our food this way. I used to brush off berries like they were mere luxuries of life on earth, a joy but not a crucial concern. Now I cherish them as the "power up mushrooms" from Super Mario Bros. that they are; essential boosts that supercharge with my innate abilities to put out fires of oxidative stress and inflammation. See below for more on blueberries.
We’ve only got two more weeks left in this cycle before we go on a three week break! The larger size apple acorn chutney and foraged fruit bbq sauce are now reduced in price to $10, a bit of a spring sale to clear the way for newness.
Blueberries carry the "superfood" distinction well, capturing the belly interest of peoples for thousands of years and most recently drumming up scientific attention for their many nutritional accolades.
Their rich flavonoid and polyphenol content can be instrumental in cancer prevention.1 Blueberries are also noted to promote healthy vision, restore blood sugar balance by sensitizing the body to insulin, and protect against cardiovascular disease.1 Anthocyanins, the flavonoid content specifically identified as a powerful antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory, is the prized component of blueberry extracts, the nutraceutical version of real live blueberries.2 This flavonoid is also in elderberries!
Advancements in genetic research is demonstrating that food has the power to turn on and off our genes.3 Nutri Epigenetics examines how certain nutrients are instrumental in transient genetic regulation by participating in methylation and acetylation of DNA.3 A recent study on blueberries found they possess the ability to downregulate the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) and the DNA methyltransferase 1 gene (DNMT1), in instances of hypermethylation associated with cancer.4
Both parallel to and preceding this research fervor around blueberries and the chemical constituents that make them so stellar, are cultures that have known their importance and went through great lengths to gather, preserve and store these treasures.5 Native to and widespread throughout most of the northern portion of the North American continent, over 35 species of blueberries and their close cousin huckleberries are a staple and ceremonial food amongst the myriad indigenous groups residing in those regions for thousands of years.5 Herbalist Matthew Wood in his book, The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, mentions the work of an Anishinabe herbalist, Keeewaydinoquay, who in her book on blueberry pronounces the fruit as centrally prized amongst her people.6 According to Wood, she shares that, “if a fire or an enemy threatened a village, dried blueberry was the first food to be taken.”6(349) This anecdote reveals the preciousness of these berries and longstanding recognition of their potency, prior to their christening as a superfood.
Embrace the small but mighty blueb (and elderberry)---information your body needs to keep steady and resist the stressors of living.
1. Ma L, Sun Z, Zeng Y, Luo M, Yang J. Molecular Mechanism and Health Role of Functional Ingredients in Blueberry for Chronic Disease in Human Beings. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(9). doi:10.3390/ijms19092785
2. Yarahmadi M, Askari G, Kargarfard M, et al. The effect of anthocyanin supplementation on body composition, exercise performance and muscle damage indices in athletes. Int J Prev Med. 2014;5(12):1594-1600.
3. Jackson and Gopinadhan C-J. Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. In: Paliyath G, Bakovic M, Shetty K, Nair MG, eds. Functional Foods, Nutraceuticals, and Degenerative Disease Prevention. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated; 2011:125-198.
4. Kim M, Na H, Kasai H, Kawai K, Li Y-S, Yang M. Comparison of Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) and Vitamin C via Antioxidative and Epigenetic Effects in Human. J Cancer Prev. 2017;22(3):174-181.
5. Hummer KE. Manna in winter: Indigenous Americans, huckleberries, and blueberries. HortScience. 2013;48(4):413-417.
6. Wood M. The Earthwise Herbal, Volume II: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books; 2009.
Carly lives and eats from a hilltop in Cummington, Massachsuetts and part time in Schenectady, NY.