Bilberry: this is what the native superfruit contains

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The names vary: bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry or wimberry. We’re talking about the little round dark blue berries that grow on bushes.

Bilberries – blue superberries

 

The blueberries we buy from markets or shops are cultivated berries that originate from North America. The cultivated blueberry is larger, has a delicate white wax coating and a pale pulp that doesn’t tend to colour – it's only from the wild berries that our lips, teeth and tongue turn blue.

4 superpowers

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Help relieve diarrhoea (dried berries)
  • Low in calories

Boost to the immune system

The bilberry is nothing less than a native superfood. Besides its anthocyanin pigment, which is an antioxidant, bilberries contain valuable minerals like iron, calcium and potassium. The blue-black berries are rich in vitamin C, which boosts our immune system, and vitamin E – another antioxidant. Low in calories but high in fibre, bilberries are good for our digestion.

Gentle digestion regulator

In large quantities, bilberries can – like many other fruits – cause diarrhoea. But if the berries are dried, they can be used as a household remedy for diarrhoea, due to the tannins they contain.

As in many foods, it’s the dosage that counts: in large quantities, salicylic acid can cause allergic reactions such as headaches and rashes.

A touch of summer

Bilberries have a sweet-sour taste and are ideal as a fresh ingredient in a light and fresh muesli, in all kinds of desserts, or just on their own as a snack. The berries also lend themselves well to smoothies and salads and even as an addition to savoury dishes with or without meat. Bilberries can also be frozen or made into jams or jellies.

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Season from July to September

Bilberries are in season in Switzerland during the three summer months. They can be bought fresh or you can pick them yourself – from wild patches in the forest, or in fields where they are commercially cultivated. However you find them, they taste equally delicious, especially when warm from the sun and popped straight in the mouth. There are several farms in Switzerland where you can pick your own. Any wild berries, and also those from the garden, must always be washed before eating to prevent contamination from fox tapeworm. In any case, whether bought or self-picked, the berries should be consumed within one day, because they spoil quickly and bruise quickly. But fresh berries freeze well – which even makes them taste better.

Nutritional table

Nutrients per 100 g % of daily requirement per 100 g
Energy 42 kcal 2% at 2,500 kcal daily requirement
Protein 0,6 g 1%
Fat 0,5 g 1%
Carbohydrates 7,2 g 2%
Fibre 3 g 12%
Magnesium 4 mg 1 - 2%
Calcium 1 % 1%
Potassium 2 % 2%
Vitamin C 20 mg 22 – 25%
Vitamin E 1,9 mg 16 – 19%

Nutritional components vary greatly depending on the fruit's origin, ripeness and processing. For this reason, the nutritional table shows guideline figures only.

Drying bilberries at home

If you still want to be able to enjoy the taste of summer during the cold winter months, you can dry bilberries very easily. Start by spreading the berries out on a baking tray, paper towel or baking parchment. Then place them on a table, for example, on the balcony or in the garden. The berries should be dried after four days at most in the sun and can be stored in airtight containers.

For faster results, use your oven

Place the baking tray in the oven – preheated to a maximum of 60 degrees Celsius – and leave for several hours. The oven door needs to be left slightly ajar to ensure the berries dry out completely. Tip: prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.

Freeze drying – how it works

Freeze drying involves freezing the berries before putting them in a vacuum chamber. Due to the negative pressure that is generated, the frozen water evaporates without passing through a liquid phase. The advantage of this method is that the food is dried in a gentle way that largely preserves its structure, aroma and, above all, vitamins. The disadvantage? Freeze drying at home isn't that straightforward.

Dried bilberries for diarrhoea

Dried bilberries are not only super tasty, they're also a popular home remedy for mild diarrhoea. The reason they help ease mild digestive complaints is tannins. These prevent the germs that cause diarrhoea from penetrating the intestinal barrier.


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