There’s some weird stuff in the fridge; not least a little black tub scarily labelled ‘Catastrophe Cosmetic’. Sharing a shelf with half a tube of tomato purée and a piece of shrivelled onion I assume it’s not for eating although, after reading the ingredients, I would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Blueberries, chamomile, rose, almond oil, sweet wild orange oil……it sounds delicious.
Further investigation reveals this to be a face mask belonging to the eldest child, the teenage one whose face, it would seem, is in need of a wholesome lotion that can, if advertising is ever to be believed, not only soften and cleanse, it can actually ‘save the day’ too! I must remember to apply it liberally, to myself and those close to me, next time a day is in trouble.
I have to admit the skin care products I myself favour all read like a recipe book; my theory is, if the ingredients of a cleanser reads like a bottle of anti-freeze, it probably is. But do these fantastic foods actually have any effect when squished onto the face or are they best taken internally? Can vitamins and antioxidants actually be absorbed into the skin? Well it’s great news, according to scientists and dermatologists, yes they can.
The little molecules of goodness that we know are packed into so many herbs, fruits, petals and barks can make it through the top layer of our skin and begin restoring and repairing. However the amounts absorbed are small so the best way to get a daily dose of all things good is to eat them (or do a bit of both).
Take blueberries for example; they have some of the highest levels of antioxidants and are full of vitamin A which is great news for skin so, by all means, add them to a face mask and skin will benefit. But they also taste delicious and it seems a shame not to savour such a delicious flavour.
I grow two blueberry bushes in pots. They prefer a slightly acidic soil, so choose an ericaceaous compost. These plants will tolerate some shade and still produce a terrific crop; mine ripen steadily providing me with several handfuls of fresh berries each day. At the end of the season leaves display rich autumn colours before falling. Bushes can be pruned in late winter to keep them productive and fed once a month in the growing season.
My favourite way to enjoy blueberries is sitting in the garden idly picking them, popping them into my mouth and enjoying the burst of flavour. Or I add them to a smoothie.
Blueberry Smoothie recipe
Blend 1 banana, a handful of strawberries, a handful of blueberries and a sprig of fresh mint with 250mls of natural yoghurt and a dash of water.
When the little people in my house want to bake I send them outside to harvest their berries and am rewarded with a batch of warm blueberry scones.
Preheat the oven to 220 c and grease two baking sheets. Sift 450g plain flour, 3 tsps baking powder, 2tsps caster sugar and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Rub 120g cold butter into the mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in a little milk just enough to form a dough and 75g blueberries. Pat out on a floored table to 3cms thick. Cut scones out with pastry cutter, brush with milk and bake for 12 minutes.
Serve warm with butter and jam.