Berry powders are the superfoods of the North

Berry powders are the superfoods of the North

Heli Koskinen

Wild berries are a real pride for the Finnish people. Bilberries, cranberries, lingonberries, sea-buckthorn, cloudberries and blackcurrants are among the most well-known - and also the most delicious and nutritious - berries in Finland, highly valued for their health effects.

Wild berries grow under the midnight sun in clean nature during the summer and autumn months, until the arrival of the first snow. The cold winter and light but short summer of the North provides a unique habitat for the berries, making them extremely dense in nutrition and intense in flavor compared to their bigger cousins, cultivated berries. Wild berries are rich in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and fatty acids. Wild berries are an essential part of the Nordic culture and diet and we have long traditions of picking and preserving them, from jams and juices to dried berries and berry powders.

Berry picking and preserving are rooted in the Finnish lifestyle

What people often find surprising is that in Finland, anyone can go to the forest and find plenty of pure wild berries for free. The concept of everyman’s right ensures that anyone can roam freely in nature and enjoy nature’s givings such as berries and mushrooms regardless of who owns the land. And the Finnish forests have plenty to offer: even during a poorer year, 100 kilos or twenty buckets of berries can be found in the forests per each Finn.

Picking wild berries has long traditions in Finland. The hunting of the healthy little treats appeals to the nature-loving Finns’ desire to live off the land and the appreciation of simple yet healthy food. Despite urbanization, the popularity of berry picking has even grown within the past few years. Even younger people have adopted berry picking and preserving as their hobby as the result of the rising interest in a more health-conscious way of living. Despite the active hunting of berries, it has been estimated that only 3-10 % of all blueberries and lingonberries are collected. Luckily a part of this is preserved and brought for sale for everyone regardless of their location.

Nutritional benefits of berries

The Finnish wild berries are not only delicious, but the nutrients they contain also nurture our bodies and minds. Wild berries contain plenty of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber which help to improve immune system, prevent cell damage and boost energy levels. Wild berries also contain a lot of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are good for the heart and the brain. Research has shown that eating berries on a regular basis is good for the skin, the heart, blood pressure and digestion and helps to manage diabetes and prevent cancer. The most well-known Nordic berries have their unique benefits:

  • Bilberries: Bilberries are full of anthocyanin, a flavonoid with powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants are known for their anti-aging effect as they help to protect cells from damage caused by sun exposure, pollution and aging. Therefore the flavonoids of bilberries help to keep skin looking young and healthy.
  • Cranberries: The red and bitter cranberry grows in bogs, swamps and shores. Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber.
  • Lingonberries: Lingonberry is a sour superberry which grows in the light and dry heath forests. Lingonberry contains vitamin E and plenty of magnesium and is also a good source of fiber.
  • Sea-buckthorn: Sea-buckthorn is rich in vitamins C and E, fiber and useful fatty acids (omega-3, -6, -7, and -9). Less than one deciliter of sea-buckthorn has as much vitamin C as a mid-size orange.
  • Cloudberry: Cloudberry is the most expensive and valued wild berry in Finland. Cloudberry is rich of vitamin C and it also contains more vitamin E and ellagitannin than many fruits and grains. Cloudberry is the richest of all wild berries in dietary fiber (6,3 g/100 g).
  • Blackcurrants: The berries, seed oil and the leaves of blackcurrant are rich in vitamins C, E and A. The oil of blackcurrant also contains plenty of good fatty acids such as stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA).

Berry powders are made from organic dried berries

Since the season for enjoying fresh berries in nature is quite short in Finland, we utilize various ways to store our berries to be able to enjoy their beneficial effects any time of the year. One of these ways is berry powders. Berry powders are prepared from whole dried berries. The berries are dried in low temperatures below 40 degrees Celsius so that the natural colors, flavors and nutrients of the berries are preserved as well as possible. Berry powders contain the same nutrients as fresh berries but in a convenient and long-lasting dried form and they don’t go off like fresh berries.

Berry powders are packed with nutrients: one tablespoon of high-quality 100 % berry powder is equal to about 1 dl of fresh berries. Berry powders are safe for even the smallest members of the family to consume.

How berry powders can be used

Berry powders are an easy way to add more vitamins and minerals to meals and they can be mixed with hot or cold foods. 1-2 tablespoons of berry powder gives the nutritional value of smoothies, porridge, muesli or yogurt an extra boost. Berry powders can also be used in baking to give extra flavor, texture and mouthfeel, and due to their beautiful and deep color, they are perfect for decorating desserts.

Berry powders preserve well when they are kept tightly sealed. Therefore it’s good to keep the powder in their original package and to close it properly after each use. If the bag is not closed properly and the powder gets into contact with oxygen, the flavonoids in the powder may be destroyed. Berry powders are best to be stored in a dry place in room temperature.

Sources:
Everything you need to know about blueberries
What makes berries so healthy?
Luonto kasvattaa metsissä
ja soilla runsaan marjasadon
Treasures of the boreal forest

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