Eating berries may be one of the most delicious ways to stay healthy: They ranked first among 50 fruits and vegetables in a study conducted at Tufts University in Boston on antioxidants, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and stroke. According to Gary Stoner, a researcher at Ohio State University, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries are extraordinary sources of ellagic acid, an antioxidant that may help prevent some kinds of cancer. All berries deliver notable amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, but strawberries are particularly high in C; half a cup provides 75 percent of the recommended daily amount. So instead of drinking iced tea, try our Strawberry Lemonade. One glass will provide most of the vitamin C you need in a day.
It took 15 years for producers to move beyond dried cranberries (Craisins), but now the range of dried berries includes everything from blueberries and strawberries to raspberries and marion-berries. Flash-frozen after they're picked, these new-generation berries can be dried when needed, so they're always plump and intensely flavored. They can also be stored for a year without sulfur, a preservative that can alter the flavor of the fruit. Look for these berries at places like Trader Joe's (www.traderjoes.com).
New Fruit Pantry
Barry Farm Gooseberry Jam Americans are rediscovering old-fashioned sweet-and-tart gooseberries. This runny jam with whole berries is delicious slathered on a buttermilk biscuit ($3.75 for 10 ounces; www.barryfarm.com).
Fortuna Aronia Juice Tart and deeply flavored, this juice is pressed from a pea-size violet-black fruit. Aronia berries are indigenous to North America but largely grown in Europe and exported to the U.S. as juice ($2.25 for 1 liter; www.micostaent.com).
Pearson's Saskatoon Berry Spread This not-too-sweet jam is made from berries that look and taste like a cross between huckleberries and blueberries. Saskatoon berries are also called juneberries and serviceberries ($3 for 8 ounces; 403-224-3011).
Sand Hill Jostaberry Conserve This tangy spread is made from the jostaberry (pronounced yostaberry), a hybrid of the American gooseberry and European black currant. It's a good foil for pork and turkey ($5.50 for 12 ounces; www.sandhillberries.com).