Native to the cool and temperate areas of the Northern hemisphere, rowan berries are the fruits of rowans or mountain ashes, which are mostly small trees although some of them are shrubs. The soft and juicy berry is small in size and varies in colors such as red, bright orange, pink, yellow or white. Rowan berry can be used in making jelly, jams, and alcoholic beverages. Most people are unaware of the nutritious benefits of these berries and have the notion that they are poisonous. The raw fruit contains parasorbic acid that is likely to cause indigestion and kidney damage but cooking or heat treatment removes all traces of toxicity and makes the berries eatable. Although rowan berries are an absolute favorite of birds, they are often shunned by human beings owing to their bitter taste. However adding sugar or other sweetening agents makes it taste extremely good.
Nutritional value of Rowan berry
Despite its small size, rowan berry is a rich a source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It is one of those fruits that contain the highest levels of carotene. In fact it has more carotene than even carrots. This berry is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B, and vitamin E. It also contains sorbic acid, which is considered to be a disinfectant, natural preservative and anti-fungal agent. Rowan berry has high amounts of tannins that have strong astringent qualities. It also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber that can aid digestion and protect your body from a bunch of ailments. Rowan berry also contains a wide range of minerals including potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese. It is also a good source of contain anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenolic compounds. Because of its high nutritional value, Rowan berry has been used as an ingredient in natural medicines for a very long time.
Health benefits of Rowan berry
Forest berries like Rowan berry have gained interest worldwide for their various health benefits. Research conducted in many countries suggest that the active chemical compounds present in these fruits have many medicinal properties and are also beneficial for improving the overall health. The health benefits of rowan berry can be attributed to the presence of high amounts of phenolic compounds, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Some of the health benefits of rowan berry are detailed below:
Rowan berry can give your immune system a high boost
Although rowan berry cannot boast of an abundance of vitamins, they however are packed with high levels of vitamin C. This vitamin happens to play a very important role in maintaining human health, as it is a powerful antioxidant and contributes to improving immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells. By improving the strength of your immune system, vitamin C helps your body in fighting off common ailments like cold, flu and other diseases.
Antioxidant activity of Rowan berry
The high amounts of antioxidants found in rowan berry makes it extremely beneficial for helping your body fight against many serious diseases such as cancer. These antioxidants neutralize the harmful effects that the free radicals cause to the cells and tissues of your body. Free radicals are formed in your body as a byproduct of cellular metabolism. They are unstable molecules that can attack the healthy cells, causing mutation which may lead to the formation of cancerous cells. Since rowan berries are packed with antioxidants, eating them on a regular basis can help in boosting the levels of antioxidants in your body, which in turn is helpful in preventing cancer and other health problems that may be caused by oxidative stress. Another health benefit of antioxidant is that it helps in delaying the aging process and makes your skin flawless by keeping wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging at bay. They also help in improving your eye health and protect your eyes from age related diseases like cataract and macular degeneration.
Skin care benefits of rowan berry
Rowan berry is high in vitamin content and possess astringent properties, which makes it beneficial for the health of the skin. It offers a regenerative and rejuvenating effect on the skin cells. It helps in increasing the blood circulation and also in brightening your complexion. The antioxidants in this fruit help in keeping the skin young and beautiful by preventing free radical damage to the skin cells. A popular anti-aging remedy is to combine rowan berry with honey and use it on the skin.
Rowan berry improves digestive health
As mentioned earlier, rowan berry is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Foods rich in dietary fiber are essential for proper digestive health, maintaining normal cholesterol levels and also for preventing many diseases. Fiber helps in improving digestion and in preventing constipation by adding bulk to the stool and in regularizing bowel movements. It also enhances the health of your digestive system by optimizing the functioning of the system. Rowan berry contains certain organic compounds that are considered to be effective in relieving the symptoms associate with digestive problems like diarrhea.
Rowan berry exhibits antibacterial properties
According to a study (conducted by scientists from the University of Helsinki and the Scottish Crop Research Institute) published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the phenolic compounds found in rowan berry, especially caffeoylquinic acids, have a striking inhibitory effect on some types of bacteria, such as E. coli. Also, the sorbic acid in this berry has been found to minimize the effects of bacteria and other microbes on the skin and body. Owing to its antimicrobial properties, the extract obtained from rowan berry is used in making many cosmetic products.
Rowan berry for respiratory ailments
The juice of rowan berry has been used in traditional medicine as a remedy for several respiratory ailments. It has been found to be effective in soothing sore throats, reducing inflammation of the respiratory tract, relieving congestion and asthma. The anti-inflammatory effects of this berry may be attributed to the presence of high levels of antioxidant compounds such as vitamin C, which helps in boosting the immune system as well as in soothing the symptoms of asthma.
Rowan berry lowers the risks of heart diseases
Rowan berry offers a protective effect on your cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol in the blood stream and also by lowering high blood pressure. Studies suggest that this fruit helps in significantly lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. Rowan berry contains high levels of potassium that helps in preventing hypertension by neutralizing the effects of sodium in the body.
Rowan berry has diuretic properties
Rowan berry is a diuretic, which helps in preventing water retention by increasing the frequency of urination. This property is also beneficial in flushing out the toxins from the body, preventing the formation of kidney stones, preventing urinary tract infections and promoting weight loss.
Some healthy rowan berry recipes
Rowan berry jelly
- Washed rowan berries (4 pounds)
- Peeled and chopped apples (3 pounds)
- White sugar (500 grams)
- Method of preparation
Take the apples and berries in a large pan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes until the fruits become very soft. Allow the boiled mixture to seep through a jelly bag overnight. Add the sugar to the juice and then simmer it again in the large pan for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved in the juice. Increase the heat and allow it to boil for another 5 minutes. Check if the jelly has set and then pour it into jars, which should then be sealed tightly.
Rowan berry wine
- Rowan berries (2.5 kg)
- Zest and juice of two large lemons
- Finely granulated sugar (1.2 kg)
- Yeast nutrient (1 tsp)
- Wine tannin (1 tsp)
- Pectin enzyme (1/2 tbsp)
- One packet of wine yeast
- Filtered boiling water (5 liters)
Method of preparation
Mash the rowan berries coarsely by putting them in a plastic bag and with the help of a rolling pin. Bring the water to a boil and then add the sugar. Keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil again and then quickly pour it over the mashed berries. Cover the berries and allow the whole mixture to cool. Once cooled, add the other ingredients such as pectin, lemon juice and tannin. Cover it again and leave it for about 24 hours. After 24 hours, add the yeast nutrient and wine yeast and stir well.
Cover it again and leave it for a week. Make sure to keep stirring daily for the first five days. Check if the brew has separated into three layers of sludge, liquid and sludge. Using a siphon, carefully remove the sludge and pass the liquid into a clean demijohn. You can also strain the mixture using a funnel and muslin cloth. Leave it to ferment for a few months. Move the fermented wine to a new demijohn and leave until the fermentation has stopped. Then store the wine in bottles.
Rowan berry can be used to make juices and purees. It can be dried and ground into a fine powder, which can be added to porridge or while baking. In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, there is much more to the Mountain ash tree and its wondrous berries. A lot of traditional significance and mythology has been associated with this tree. It has been valued in various traditions as a magical tree of life, a conductor of spiritual energies and as a guardian against evil forces.Image Credits: Flickr - Ervins Strauhmanis, Flickr - Hans Kylberg, Weezl