There’s a reason why children are like heat seeking missiles when it comes to sweets. Those tangy, acid-sweet flavours that are so destructive to their dental array are only mimicking the natural flavours of fresh wild fruits, stuffed with vitamins and minerals to help them grow strong, (and once that happens you can make them mow your lawn). Cut out the middleman and try these seasonal summer delights.
Packet of Haribo V CHERRY PLUM (Prunus cerasifera)
This sweet natured, short lived tree (also known as Myrobalan or weeping plum) hails from mysterious places like the mountains of Iran and West Asia, migrating North to Europe and Poland and subtly invading Britain with its lovely tangy yellow, red or purple fruits. These little nuggets are a mere 2.5cm long and smoothly oval, with a fairly large pit. The fruits are high in iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphate and Vitamins B and C. They are said to be lower in sugar than most fruits. I have been munching on them for several days now and I feel damn brilliant. Try making them into a tart with some ginger. You can buy the fantastically named Polish variety ‘Zloty Oblok’ (say it, with a full mouth without spitting, come on).
VERDICT: Landslide victory to Cherry Plum!
TOXIC WASTE Super Sours V CRAB APPLE (Malus sylvestris)
Our stalwart British wild apple is sour as all hell, but has a charm all its own when added to a large volume of sugar. Since when does a Super Sour change colour from apple juice/wee amber to a stunning pink? To witness this fairylike transformation, watch the bubbling pot as you make Crab Apple Jelly. Then spread said pink and luscious jelly on Melba toast squares with cream cheese. Just don’t tell the kids that it contains 10% of your daily Vitamin C per 110g. Although admittedly not much else except carbs. Plus, erm, a lot of sugar. They are also great baked, which makes them sweeter.
VERDICT – we’ll call this one a draw.
LIQUORICE ALLSORTS V ELDERBERRIES
That smoky, musky, dark and slightly dangerous taste of aniseed, and of elderberries…is liquorice REALLY made of rats tails as Roald Dahl told us? About as much as elderberries will transport one to the gates of the Underworld to be met by Persephone. In short, no. Things aren’t quite so clear cut here, with natural liquorice from a high end health food shop being antispasmodic, soothing to the digestion and antibacterial/antiviral. But let’s face it, liquorice allsorts are not the same as a root fresh from a liquorice plant.
Meanwhile Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are antiviral, often made into a syrup to prevent colds and flu. They punch above their weight, with 87% of your RDA of Vitamin C per 145g, 41% of your fibre, 17% of your Vitamins B6 and A, and 13% of your iron and potassium.
VERDICT: Elderberries win! Except with raw liquorice.
FRUIT GUMS V BLACKBERRIES
What can possibly rival the delicate Squidge of a ripe bramble fruit, or the thrill of negotiating the evil thorns that can snare your hair, making you helpless as a sheep stuck in a fence no matter what your age? It very much depends on how good your local bushes are. The one in the council estate next to our boat was sadly cut down last winter. It was in full sun and produced blackberries that made you cry with joy at their juicy awesomeness. It was bypassed by local children until myself and my son flagged it up to them. Maybe the council cut it down after hearing one too many orgasmic cries of delight. Other berries from other bushes can be wizened, sour, wormy reprobates. Keep trying ’em.
Nutritionally, 145g (a cup) of blackberries contain 47 % of your daily manganese, 36% of your Vitamin K, 31% of your Fibre, 50% of your Vitamin C and 12% of your copper. Plus, obviously, fruit sugars. Fruit Gums contain 2% of your protein and a heck of a lot of carbs. And if you ate a whole cup of fruit gums, you deserve to be sick…
VERDICT: Erm, blackberries, anyone?
There are so many more berries out there I could list, but I’m running out of time now to pick my son from summer camp, so those will have to wait until later. It’s not like I’m going to be typing much when he’s around.
See you all later folks. xx