This week’s post is brought to you by another student in the Integrated Agriculture and Food Systems program, Gracelyn Abel. She is entering her second year in the program this fall semester. Today she is talking about our dark fruit study we have on the farm.
In Your CSA Share This Week: Raspberries, peas, salad mix, basil, summer squash, green onions,
Farm Fodder: The Dirt on Dark Fruit by Gracelyn Abel
In 2015, Montana State University partnered with FVCC to conduct a small dark fruit trial out at our farm. They were looking at the viability for small acreage land owners to grown different kinds of fruits on their land. The study has multiple sites all over our state, including one in Corvallis.
Our site in particular has fruits such as aronia berries, black currants, hascaps, saskatoon berries, and shrub cherries. All of these berries were chosen because of their high antioxidant content.
Aronia berries have been actively cultivated in Russia since the 1940s and Europe since the 1950s. Widespread cultivation has not hit the US yet, despite them being native to North America. Their appeal come from their deeply purple color. Purple is often a sign of very powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Aronias have a higher concentration of anthocyanins than the more popular blueberry. Perhaps you don’t recognize the name aronia berry. I’ve grown up calling them choke cherries, aptly named for their slightly fuzzy bitter taste. They may not be something you want to eat by the handful, but they do pack a healthy punch of cancer fighting nutrients.
Black currants are a great ingredient in any jam or syrup. Their dark color makes them useful for natural dyes, and they have been popular in the juice market. A big drawback of this particular fruit happens to be it’s impact in hosting the fungal disease, white pine blister rust. This rust can decimate a pine tree rather quickly. Because of this, black currants are restricted from being planted in certain places where it could spread disease to pine forests.
Haskaps, also known as honeyberries, are an elongated berry grown on honeysuckle plants. They have been grown in Russia and Japan for medicinal and culinary purposes. These berry plants are efficient at creating phytochemicals (biological compounds) that thwart insects. Haskaps can range in flavor from very mild to very sweet, like raspberries.
Saskatoon berries are small, round, and purplish-blue. They traditionally grown wild in Canada and Alaska. These berries contain the antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids have been studied and may have anti-inflammatory characteristics. Saskatoon berries are one of the best sources of calcium in a berry, containing 88 mg per 100 g serving. To put that in perspective, blueberries only have 6 mg per 100 g of berries.
Shrub cherries take up less space than a typical cherry tree, making them well suited for small acreage. Their bright red hue gives them a dual purpose as an ornamental shrub as well as a backyard supply of pie filling. That coloring is a clue to this stone fruit’s cell protecting properties due to it’s high antioxidant content.
Feature Veggie (or Fruit) of the Week: RASPBERRIES!
There is much to boast about this little aggregate fruit. Aggregate fruits are made from flowers that have multiple ovaries that create druplets around a central core. These cores create those little juicy beads on the raspberry. Each one of those beads can be considered a fruit.Now that you’ve learned a little fun fact about raspberries, how about a fun recipe to try? This no-bake raspberry tart has my mouth watering.