Properties of sloe
These fruits are low in calories due to their low carbohydrate intake. Black and red currants, which have higher amounts than some citrus fruits, are especially rich in vitamin C. In general, wild berries are a good source of fiber; that improves intestinal transit, and potassium, iron and calcium (the latter two of worse use than those from foods of animal origin), tannins with astringent action and various organic acids. However, what really characterizes these fruits is their abundance of natural pigments (anthocyanins and carotenoids) with antioxidant action. In the human diet, this type of fruit is one of the most important sources of anthocyanins, which give them their characteristic color and which are together with organic acids such as oxalic acid or malic acid, also responsible for their flavor. Vitamin C has antioxidant action, like anthocyanins and carotenoids. This vitamin intervenes in the formation of collagen, bones and teeth, red blood cells and favors the absorption of iron from food and resistance to infections. Potassium is necessary for the transmission and generation of the nerve impulse, for normal muscular activity and it intervenes in the balance of water inside and outside the cell.
Anthocyanins and carotenoids are abundant in the composition of all these berries. From the biochemical point of view, they are characterized by having a high antioxidant activity; they neutralize the action of free radicals that are harmful to the body. These properties can give rise to very diverse physiological effects; anti-inflammatory effects and antibacterial action of anthocyanins, among others. These fruits contain, in addition to anthocyanins and carotenoids, other antioxidants such as vitamin C. The dietary intake of these substances enhances our immune system or the body's defenses and contributes to reducing the risk of degenerative, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. Likewise, vitamin C has the ability to promote the absorption of iron from food, thus improving or preventing iron deficiency anemia. There are certain vital situations in which the organic needs of vitamin C are increased, such as pregnancy, lactation, smoking, use of certain medications, stress and diminished defenses, intense sports practice, cancer, AIDS and chronic inflammatory diseases. In such situations, the consumption of wild berries rich in vitamin C is especially indicated.
Fiber is a very abundant component in these fruits, so its regular consumption during the months when they are abundant can be a remedy to treat constipation and intestinal atony.
The fruits, when they are still green, are rich in tannins, which gives them that sensation of roughness on the palate and are astringent and refreshing, but once they reach full maturity, the tannins decrease and the fruits acquire laxative, tonic and purifying properties.
In particular, blueberries are ideal for fighting infections and improving peripheral circulation. The cranberry juice of the red variety exerts a surprising antiseptic and antibiotic action on the germs that cause urinary infections, especially on Escherichia Coli. In case of cystitis, it is recommended to drink a large glass filled with about 300 milliliters of fresh juice daily, for one to three months, as treatment and prophylaxis.
In addition, blueberries contain quinic acid, a substance that is eliminated and acidifies the urine, so that it prevents stones or calcium phosphate kidney stones from forming, not other types of stones.
Origin and varieties
These fruits are native to Asia and Europe and can be seen in the wild on roadsides or streams. They grow in humid soils and in some cases, such as the pacharán, they can be found at 1,500 meters of altitude. They ripen during the summer and fall months. Currently, species are grown for commercial purposes, so they are easy to find in specialized markets. Sloe, in recent years has begun to be cultivated in various countries of Eastern Europe and in the United States. In Spain, its cultivation is beginning to be extended to supply the industry that produces pacharán, a Navarra drink that uses sloes as raw material.
Also known as pacharán, it grows wild grouped in the banks and streams. In calcareous and humid soils up to 1,500 meters of altitude. They are small drupes or grains with a spherical shape of purple color and with a smooth and round seed. Their color is dark blue, almost black, and they are covered with a very fine layer of purple (the bloom) that gives it a whitish-violet hue and that disappears when touched with the finger.
How to choose and keep them
They are available for harvest during the months of September and October in the northern hemisphere.
When choosing this type of fruit, it is advisable to look at their color, it must be bright and intense. They must be firm to the touch and dry, since soft and moist ones spoil faster. They tend to deteriorate due to dehydration, cracking of the small grains that form them or mold.
Normally the aroma accompanies the appearance of the food and they are usually highly perfumed fruits.
Unripe fruits should not be purchased thinking that they will already ripen at home, as this will not happen. Nor is it convenient to acquire them too ripe as they lose their juice.
Tips for cooking with sloes
Sloes can be taken naturally as long as they are ripe or after having suffered the effects of frost, as they lose their acidity and harshness and become sweeter. After collecting and selecting the best sloes, they are mixed with alcohol of natural origin and left to marinate in special tanks of anise syrup; The result is a drink with a fantastic taste, the "Pacharán" with the Navarra denomination of origin.