The Backyard Berry Bounty

How cool is it to be able to amble into your yard first thing in the morning and pick fresh berries for breakfast? For a few glorious weeks in the summer, I can choose between raspberries in the backyard and strawberries in front.

The white currants aren't quite ripe enough yet, but soon they'll make the most beautiful, pale pink jelly you ever spread onto a biscuit. I'll dry some of them for use in baking.

And later this year – if the birds don't get to them first – it looks like an amazing elderberry crop, which will make sumptuous jam and also a healthy syrup to ward off winter colds and flu.

I never set out to be an urban berry-farmer. I just planted a few things and they grew. And grew. And...well, then I had to figure out what to do with the harvest.

Some months of the year, it's a lot of work. But there's a nutritional payoff as well as the satisfaction of watching the plants thrive.

I read a recent article by a Harvard Medical School professor that describes berries as excellent sources of fiber and Vitamin C, but says their skins also are concentrated with antioxidants known as anthocyanins. The darker the berry, the greater the anthocyanin content. According to this doctor, berries put antioxidants in pill form to shame in terms of their healthful benefits.

My biggest challenge is to get them indoors and get them washed – it's a lot more fun to eat 'em standing in the yard!