Blueberries

There is a well-known saying that “a blueberry closes the doctor’s door”, which tells us a lot about the value of this berry. Blueberries have been used to treat many different illnesses for centuries. They help you fall asleep, and they also have anti-inflammatory properties and strengthen the immune system.

Fresh blueberries help against constipation and dried blueberries alleviate diarrhoea. They have this effect due to their high tannin content. Tannins also bind heavy metals, making it harder for the body to absorb and store them. It is for this reason that consuming blueberries with medicines is not recommended, as the tannins in the berries reduce the absorption of medicines into the body.

Pigments are a highly valuable ingredient of blueberries. Particular attention is given to their blue pigment, which together with vitamin C and iron promotes haematopoiesis and keeps blood vessels elastic, especially in the brain and eyes. This is why blueberries are so good for people who suffer from night blindness or are sensitive to light. Many studies confirm that blueberries protect the vision pigments, optic nerves and the cells in the retina, thereby giving a boost to eyes that tend to tire easily. Blueberries also slow down the aging process, alleviate diabetes and promote the absorption of glucose in the body.

Various studies have revealed that the substances contained in blueberries help prevent thrombi, strengthen and expand blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. The substances concealed in blueberries also offer protection against various diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The substances in blueberries also slow the breakdown of the ‘feel-good hormone’ oxytocin.

It has been known for a long time that berries help fight bacteria. They don’t allow bacteria to attach themselves to human cells and promote their excretion. Blueberry juice is good against coliform bacteria. This is why eating blueberries every day is recommended. Half a glass of blueberries provides as many antioxidants as 4-5 glasses of any other fruit. Blueberries also have a calming effect.

 

About cranberries

Cranberries are a well-known source of vitamins. They can be found in swamps and bog forests from September until the arrival of snow. Cranberries are round, red, tart berries with a strong skin. They can be added to almost any dishes. They are the most plentiful in autumn, which is also the season when the berries are the most abundantly used. Cranberries look great on a plate and their deep ruby colour whets the appetite.

The acidic taste of cranberries can be balanced with oranges, apples, pineapples or pears. Their tartness can be cleverly used in fresh salads: replace lemon juice and vinegar with fresh cranberries or freshly squeezed cranberry juice. Using cranberries is the healthier option, as the red berries make the salad taste better and add colour.  Dried autumn berries add zest to muesli or oatmeal porridge. Dried cranberries can also be eaten instead of sweets. The taste of cranberries becomes less acidic when they’re dried, but they don’t lose any of their goodness.

You can make a great autumn salad from fresh cabbage, carrot, cranberries and pineapple. Rinse the cabbage and carrot and grate the carrot coarsely. Cut the cabbage into thin strips and cube the fresh pineapple. Crush the cabbage and carrot with a little sugar and salt to soften, then add the pineapple cubes and red cranberries. Squeeze juice from some cranberries to make the salad taste even better.  Mix the salad carefully with a wooden spoon until even. Sprinkle some cranberries on top before serving, as their vibrant colour will make it look really pretty on the table.

Cranberry

Cranberries contain more natural vitamins than most other berries that grow in bogs and marshes. These pretty red berries add a touch of brightness to grey autumn days with their beautiful colour alone, not to mention their sour and bitter taste. The nice green leaves of the cranberries also add a pretty note to autumn.

Cranberries are used almost everywhere – in the food industry, medicine, folk medicine and at home. They add a great freshness to desserts and are fantastic with pastries and meat dishes. Everyone knows that eating cranberries is good for you. These berries burst with vitamins and have a number of qualities that help improve and maintain health. However, just popping some cranberries in your mouth is not the best idea – the sour taste will make you wince. This is the result of their high acid content. In addition to citric acid they contain benzoic acid, which has a strong antibacterial effect and is what makes cranberries so easy to preserve. We hope that eating cranberries will keep viruses away during this cold, dark season.

There are three periods in the year when cranberries can be picked, but usually this is done in autumn from September until the arrival of snow. This is when cranberries are at their most valuable and strongest. The best known way of preserving cranberries is in water. Wash and clean the berries, put them in a jar or bottle and cover them with cold boiled water. Kept in a cool place, cranberries can survive the winter like this. Berries that are picked earlier will rapidly go off due to their low benzoic acid content and because their vitamin content is also small. Berries picked in later autumn after a light frost taste the best – freezing when still attached to the plant makes the taste milder. However, the only way to preserve them raw is to deep freeze them. Cranberries picked in spring are juicy and sweet, but do not keep well, and their vitamin content is lower. Cranberries are soft berries that burst easily.

If bogs and marshes are too far away and you cannot get to the market, it is good to know that you can grow cranberries in peat beds in your own garden. Cultivated cranberry varieties have large berries (1.5-2 cm) and high yields. The bright red berries also add a touch of eye-catching beauty to your garden.

Blueberry

Blueberries are great for your health and taste delicious, too. They are one of the most popular berries that people eat. In addition to their great appearance and taste, they also have wonderful medicinal properties. It is well known that eating blueberries makes you stronger and protects you from illness.

There is obviously no need to explain what blueberries look like. However, we may need to talk about distinguishing them from bog bilberries (another natural species that belongs to the genus Vaccinium). These two plants are rather different from each other. First of all, blueberry plants are light green, while bog bilberry plants are blue-green in colour. Secondly, blueberries are dark blue or almost black, but bog bilberries are clearly light blue. The shape of the berries is also slightly different: blueberries are round; bog bilberries are oblong. Thirdly, the shoots of blueberries differ from those of bog bilberries, being light green and sharply square in shape in the first three or four years. Lastly, bog bilberry shrubs are much bigger than blueberry shrubs.

Blueberries taste better than bog bilberries and they are also more valuable to your health. Blueberries are among the best berries found in our forests, and in July you always see people picking them in good blueberry areas. They have an impressive range of uses: they can be used to make jam, juice, kissel or compote. However, fresh blueberries are the best. They are often eaten with sugar and milk. The berries can also be dried. To do this, the berries must first be left in the sun in a single layer for a couple of days. They are then brought inside and dried on a stove, in an over or in a drier. The drying temperature should not be higher than 60 °C, as many of the good substances in the berries perish at higher temperatures. Blueberries that have been processed like this are used as medicine. They help treat various digestive disorders – including the simple but extremely uncomfortable diarrhoea. They have this effect because they contain tannins. Blueberries and the leaves of the blueberry shrub can also be used in leather tanning due to their high tannin content. The leaves, which contain more tannins than the berries, are used as medicine.

Cranberry

Cranberry helps alleviate skin problems and this wonderful berry can be used by everyone. Cranberry has no contraindications in cosmetology.

Cranberry is a good solution to the problem of oily skin. Fold a piece of cheesecloth in five or six layers, dip it in freshly squeezed cranberry juice and place the cloth on your face after cleansing. Don’t cover the area around the eyes, nose or mouth. The lower eyelids must be protected with a greasy cream.  A cranberry mask also helps nourish dry skin. Mix 1 tsp. of freshly squeezed cranberry juice with 1 tsp. of greasy cream. A mix of fresh cranberry juice and egg white helps in the case of flaky skin. Mix the components well and apply to your clean face. The masks should be left on the face for 10-20 minutes and then removed carefully.

Cranberry is used to minimise large pores and alleviate skin irritation. The disinfecting properties of cranberry make it a good treatment for inflamed skin.

Cranberries are also widely used in cooking. They are a great ingredient for pastry fillings. Cranberries are also added to sauces served with meat. They are a tasty and vitamin-rich addition to the daily diet. However, food and drinks made only of cranberries have the biggest benefits. Cranberries are often used to make juice, jam, jelly and sauce. It is also possible to make cranberry kvass. Scald the berries in hot water and squash them with a wooden spoon. Add water and boil, then add sugar. Let the liquid cool down and dissolve yeast in it. Pour the liquid into a bottle, cork it and leave it to rest in a cool and dark place for three days.

A small cranberry shrub is as good as an entire pharmacy. Cranberry farms use cultivated plants with large fruit, which are as nutritious and healthy as the wild berries. However, their chemical composition is somewhat different. For example, cultivated cranberries contain more carbohydrates and flavonoids, but they contain fewer organic acids, especially ascorbic acid, than the wild plants. However, these differences have no significant impact on the nutritional or therapeutic properties of cranberries.

Cranberries picked in Estonia come from clean and environmentally friendly areas.

Frozen blueberries

Deep-freezing blueberries is the fastest and easiest way of preserving the berries, guaranteeing that they don’t lose their flavour, aroma, bioenergy or nutritional value. Frozen blueberries keep until the next harvest and are also much easier to transport than fresh ones. Frozen blueberries can be packaged in plastic bags, boxes, buckets etc. Deep-freezing is the easiest way of preserving berries and their nutritional value. Frozen blueberries are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries because of their nutritional value and qualities. They are used in yoghurt, cakes, curds and more. The pharmaceutical industry uses frozen blueberries to make medicines.

Frozen blueberries have become very popular. The temperatures used to deep-freeze the berries are sufficiently low (mostly -25°C or lower), as freezing at such a temperature causes minimal damage to the plant cells. Flash-freezing is used to freeze the berries, as it creates smaller ice crystals, which cause less damage to the tissue structure. When a ‘slowly’ frozen berry thaws, the cell fluids seep out from the tissue damaged by the ice crystals and the berries end up dry or sodden. Vitamins C, B1 and B2 are well preserved in flash-frozen berries. Also, freezing does not reduce mineral or fibre content. Research has shown that the quantity of one of the most reactive vitamins in deep-frozen berries – ascorbic acid or vitamin C– forms generally 80% of initial content. Deep-frozen blueberries must be stored at the right temperature. The most suitable temperature for preserving them is -18°C – at this temperature they can be kept in a freezer for up to a year.

The best time to freeze blueberries is immediately after picking and cleaning, as the appearance and colour of the berries as well as their nutrients and therapeutic properties are then well preserved. High-quality blueberries are frozen.

Freezing blueberries is certainly the best and healthiest way of preserving and transporting the berries from an economic point of view. Scientists find that correctly frozen berries compete well with fresh berries in terms of their qualities.

Cowberry

Cowberry or ligonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is an evergreen shrub in the Vaccinium genus in the heath family.

Cowberries’ red berries’ sourish taste is certainly familiar to anyone who has ever tasted them and it is very likely that a person who has never happened to eat cowberries has some sort of idea of how they taste.

Cowberries are, along with cranberries and blueberries, an important product for one of the leading companies marketing forest and horticultural products for the food and pharmaceutical industries in the Baltic States and Nordic Countries – Berry Group OÜ.

Regardless of its sourish taste, cowberries contain quite a lot of different sugars, most of all the sweetest natural sugar – fructose. As much as 10-12% of sugar can be found in cowberries, but its specific sourish taste comes from organic acids which make up less than 2%, but the citric, malic, oxalic, acetic, benzoic and ursolic acids in cowberries hide the sweetness of the sugars and come forward in the taste. Naturally, in addition to sugars and acids, cowberries also contain proteins and a small amount of fats. In addition to previously mentioned useful substances, cowberries also contain different bioactive glycosides, vitamin C, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, different dietary fibres, tannins and pigments, and minerals.

In the history of the Nordic peoples, cowberries have had an important place in people’s menus just because they are preservable even in the simplest conditions thanks to the high concentration of benzoic acid, and of course they go together well with different dishes. Therefore, cowberries have always been an important source of vitamin for people during winter times. Cowberries are also very useful for treating and preventing rheumatism, arthritic conditions, indigestions and respiratory diseases as they facilitate digestion and intestinal function.

The best-known ingredient of cowberries is benzoic acid. Chemically, benzoic acid is an aromatic carboxylic acid, a colourless, odourless, crystalline compound that dissolves in water. Benzoic acid and its salts have both a killing and inhibiting effect on microbes. The acid under discussion and its sodium, potassium and calcium salts work upon microbes especially efficiently in an acidic environment. This brings the reason why sourish cowberry preservatives are very well preserved. Benzoic acid has an anti-inflammatory effect, which reveals itself when quite large quantities get to the body. For that, at least a couple hundred grams of cowberries should be eaten daily.

Cranberries in medicine

Cranberries are a real health source by providing dietary minerals, organic acids and other useful things. Cranberries contain different minerals, vitamins, organic acids, flavonoids, phytocides, pigments and pectins. Cranberries are rich in acids, which is shown by their sour taste. Acids include citric, benzoic, malic, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and others, which give cranberries a special taste, the ability to disinfect your stomach and intestines, and to stimulate the production of enzymes in the body. Organic acids inhibit the development of disease-producing bacteria. Citric acid acts as an antioxidant as it strengthens the cell system. Benzoic acid and its salts have both a killing and inhibiting effect on microbes. Benzoic acid is used as a preservative in the food industry. The acids hide cranberries’ sweet taste. Sugars are mainly represented by glucose and fructose. Thanks to the dietary fibres (cellulose and pectin) found in cranberries they have the ability to cleanse the body.

Medicine has always paid attention to cranberries. Cranberries and their juice stimulate digestive glands and increase appetite. Raw berries are the most useful for the body. Cranberries stimulate the production of gastric and pancreatic juices, and are therefore good to use in case of hypochlorhydria or the first stage of pancreatitis. The usefulness of cranberries lies in their great amounts of healthy antioxidants in polyphenols. Polyphenols supposedly have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic characteristics.

Cranberry juice quenches thirst and eases fever pains. In case of high blood pressure, it is good to take candied cranberries or crushed cranberries with honey and garlic. Standard treatment will also become more effective thanks to eating these berries. Cranberries are helpful in case of renal, bladder or urinary system diseases as they have diuretic effect and they destroy microbes. Cranberry extracts and pills, which are very efficient for people with bladder or urinary system diseases, are available in pharmacies. Cranberry juice, which cures angina and bronchitis, is used in many cold medicines. Eating berries constantly helps to prevent infectious diseases. Due to containing dietary fibres, they are good in the prophylaxis of atherosclerosis. Cranberries are healthy because they strengthen the heart and cardiovascular system as they make a person’s arteries softer and more elastic, and prevent the formation of clots. Consuming cranberries has a positive effect on the body’s biggest artery, the aorta. Consuming cranberry juice and preparations daily increases the amount of HDL aka “good” cholesterol in blood and decreases the amount of LDL aka “bad” cholesterol. Cranberries are recommended when treating pulmonary tuberculosis but they can also relieve arthritic conditions.

NB! Cranberries are contraindicated in case of gastric and duodenal ulcers and liver diseases. People with hyperchlorhydria have to careful. They can drink diluted juice and only use the berries in foods.

The Wild Bilberry

The Wild Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a deciduous shrub with edible fruit of a blue colour similar to blueberries. The plant is native to Central and Northern Europe. Wild bilberries resemble ordinary blueberries, but unlike blueberries they do not grow in clusters and their colour is also a little darker.

One of the leading marketers of forestry and horticultural products in the Baltic States and Nordic countries is Berry Group OÜ, whose main clients are food and pharmaceutical industries. Wild bilberries are one of the most important products of the company in addition to cowberries and cranberries.

Wild bilberries have many health benefits – eating the berries promotes balance in the body and helps avoid many common illnesses and diseases.

People have been eating berries for a very long time, and in addition to eating wild bilberries our ancestors also used them for medical purposes, to slow down the aging process and to achieve overall health balance. Wild bilberries contain large quantities of strong antioxidants, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, which is why they have been used in European popular medicine for more than a thousand years.

Anthocyanins destroy the free radicals found in the human body, strengthen capillaries and improve general blood supply, which is why wild bilberries are used to treat and prevent diseases associated with the circulatory system and blood supply.

Wild bilberries have also been used to prevent the deterioration of the circulatory system and platelets due to their ability to improve tissue binding. Good blood supply is essential for good health and living life to the full. Eating bilberries also promotes the functioning of the coronary artery and keeps it from clotting, as it reduces fat deposits in the body.

During the Second World War the pilots of the British Royal Air Force ate bilberries to keep their vision sharp and see better in the dark during night missions – the berries improve sharpness of vision by protecting rhodopsin or visual purple and help the eyes adjust to darkness as well as to the bright light of day.

Wild bilberries are used to fight eye diseases such as glaucoma, myopia and cataracts. They also help diabetics whose eyesight has deteriorated as a result of their disease.

As health issues associated with blood supply are becoming an increasingly more serious concern in our urbanising society and most people’s eyesight deteriorates at a certain age even if they are physically fit, we should consider this in our diet – and what could be better than eating nice fresh berries to improve your health!