Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Highbush Cranberries -- the Gathering

I live with five folks.

One of them is Luke.

Luke is the forager of the family, the gatherer (they are in a family - three brothers + the partner/girlfriend of one of 'em + their child and there's one on the way). He invited me yesterday to go with him to gather some chanterelles.

I took him up on the offer and off we went.

First -- a quick stop by the post office (thanks Audrey 1, Audrey 2, mystery person who sent me that one magazine, and Jessamy -- I only read the first letter from Audrey and am saving the rest for my birthday on Friday) was a good start for the venture. Mr. Postman (can I have favourite post men?) welcomed me home to Alaska, telling me they had all known I was coming back because of the letters arriving with my name on them.

It was a mile out of town, no too far, and before long we were in the woods. Wish I had pictures, it was beautiful.

We picked a bounty (so many of those things!) and then my mind wandered on to the highbush cranberry. Luke had already gathered a ton but they were there, they were plump, they were beautiful.. and they tasted so horrible, I couldn't stop eating them.

I'm sick of the term and embarrassed to use it -- but these little berries are considered, eh, uh... superfoods.

That wasn't very informative. Let's try to redeem this.

Ready for a citation? I know it should go at the end but I haven't made one in a few years and it looks so pretty!

"The Antioxidant Level of Alaska’s Wild Berries: High, Higher and Highest." International Journal of Circumpolar Health 72 (2013). US National Library of Medicine. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. .

That has to do with this upcoming information.

Let me try to get you the words of people who know things.

So these folks wanted to see about antioxidants in the berries. What good are those things? Good question. We keep talking about antioxidants but I think I rarely meet anyone who knows what they do. "Antioxidants are important in terms of their ability to protect against oxidative cell damage that can lead to conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease – conditions also linked with chronic inflammation. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Alaska’s wild berries may have the potential to help prevent these diseases."

Well great.
That's cool.

Here's what they were checking out...
"This research centred on both the raw berries and products made from the berries. In the first year, a variety of wild berries were tested to discover their oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) in the raw berries. The second level of the research project processed 4 different berries – blueberries, lingonberries, salmonberries, highbush cranberries – into 8 or 9 products made from these berries. The products were tested for both ORAC as well as specific antioxidants."

And the results?

"The Alaska wild berries collected and tested in the first experiment ranged from 3 to 5 times higher in ORAC value than cultivated berries from the lower 48 states. For instance, cultivated blueberries have an ORAC scale of 30. Alaska wild dwarf blueberries measure 85. This is also higher than lower 48 wild blueberries, which had a score of 61. All of the Alaskan berries tested have a level of antioxidant considered nutritionally valuable, ranging from 19 for watermelon berries to 206 for lingonberries on the ORAC scale."

The highbush cranberry was at 174 - only second to the lingonberry.

Well, that's also cool.

I know I didn't write all that (you saw that citation, yeah?).

So that's what we picked! It's super good for you.

Back home, I threw 'em into a blender, mashed 'em up a bit, popped them in the cheesecloth, squeezed them, and the juice keeps for a long time in the fridge or freezer. All set!

To celebrate, at the end, we did shots of highbush cranberry juice. This stuff is so tart, it's face contorting.

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