Bring on the Berries: How to Select, Prepare, and Store Summer Berries With Recipe Ideas

Whether you buy berries at the market, grow them at home, pick them at local farms, or stash them in the freezer, summer is the right time for ripe, juicy berries.

 

How To Pick & Store Berries

  • Choose plump and brightly colored berries packed loosely in dry containers
  • Remove any moldy or overripe berries
  • Keep them dry (unwashed) and whole until just before eating or cooking them.
  • Store them on a shelf near the front where it’s a little warmer and where you’re likely to see and use them within five days.

 

Sizing Up Berry Containers

The most common plastic clam shell berry container sizes you find at the store may vary from 4-6 oz. (small) to 11-16 oz. (large) depending upon the berry.

Here are some equivalents for common container sizes:

Typically, you get 1 cup whole berries or 1 cup sliced strawberries for every 4-5oz. of fruit.

Blueberries: 4.4-oz container = 1 cup

Blackberries: 6-oz container = about 1 ¼ cup

Raspberries, Golden Raspberries, Goldenberries: 6-oz container = about 1 ¼ cups

 Strawberries: 5-oz container = about 1 cup, hulled sliced; 16-oz container = 3 cups hulled and sliced

 

How To Freeze Berries

Spread clean, dry whole berries (stems removed for strawberries) in a single layer on a tray and freeze until firm, a few hours or overnight. Transfer to a zip-top plastic freezer bag, label, and store in the freezer up to one year.

 

More Berries To Try

Check your grocers for these and other berries that may grow where you live. In recipes, most berries are interchangeable. Just sweeten to taste to account for variations in tartness.

Boysenberries

Boysenberries are created by crossing American dewberries and loganberries with European blackberries and raspberries.They resemble blackberries and have a sweet-tart taste, are a deep purple color, and are terrific in jams and pies.

Golden Raspberries

A yellow version of red raspberries, these have a mild sweet flavor.They do nicely in desserts, salads, and syrups.

Mulberries

These are sweet elongated berries that look like blackberries and can be used similarly. They come in black red and white varieties. They have been labeled as a superfood, since in addition to antioxidants and vitamin C, they contain high levels of iron and protein for a fruit.

 

Time to Eat: A Dozen Berry Uses

Chef Sara Moulton, host of ‘Sara’s Weeknight Meals’ on PBS, shares clever ways to enjoy them:

  • Use just as is – washed and delicious.
  • Pancakes – add whole or chopped berries to your favorite pancake recipe.
  • Ice cubes – try frozen puree in iced tea.
  • Tasty Spread – combine pureed or fresh strawberries with softened unsalted butter and some honey.
  • Frozen Yogurt – pulse 10 oz. frozen berries in a food processor. Add 7 oz. Greek yogurt and 3 T sugar; blend smooth.
  • Salsa – mix diced strawberries with lime juice, chopped jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro.
  • Lemonade – stir in pureed or fresh strawberries before serving over ice.
  • Quick Jam – cook chopped berries with 1 T orange juice and a pinch of salt on low until the mixture bubbles. Stir in 3 T chia seeds and honey to taste. Allow jam to cool.
  • A smart use for super-ripe berries is to toss them into a smoothie.
  • Pastry – combine chopped berries with sugar; spoon into squares of packaged puff pastry. Fold into triangle shapes and crimp edges. Bake as directed.
  • Salad – toss mixed greens, blue cheese (or feta if preferred) and salted nuts with berries; dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Salad dressing – puree 1 cup strawberries with a pinch of salt, Dijon mustard and 2T red wine vinegar. Whisk in 2 T olive oil; season with freshly ground pepper.

 

Any way you serve them, they will certainly be a delicious, healthy treat!

 

 

Author: Michelle Hanson

Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: michelle@fnfoods.com. She will look forward to meeting you!