One of the best things about summer is the availability of fresh produce – especially fresh berries. July is the peak month for blackberries and raspberries to be available, while blueberries are in season from July to September. Often during these peak months berries will be available at great prices or maybe even free if you pick your own! To select the best berries look for: plump, firm berries that are free of mold. Check containers to avoid those with staining – a sign the berries might be damaged. Fresh raspberries are the most perishable lasting only 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator, blackberries will last a little longer – 3 to 6 days refrigerated, blueberries last the longest – up to almost 2 weeks refrigerated. Refrigerate berries without washing them, for the best shelf life – wash only before using.
If you can’t use your berries in a few days consider freezing them. Blueberries need not be washed before freezing – washing will make them tougher skinned. Blackberries and raspberries should be carefully washed and drained before freezing. To freeze place berries on a cookie sheet for a couple hours to quick freeze and then store in plastic containers or freezer bags. Berries will last up to 12 months in a freezer – mark the date on the container.
So what can you do with fresh berries? Most of us enjoy a fruit cup or parfait, but after a couple days that can get old.
Other ideas for fresh berries include:
- Tossed on your lettuce salad.
- Whipped with juice or milk, yogurt, and ice for a smoothie.
- With your morning cereal.
- In your pancake batter.
- On a small cup of ice cream.
- On top of angel food cake or pudding.
- Baked into cobbler, scones, or muffins.
- Check out Fruits and Veggies – More Matters for recipe ideas http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/main-recipes.
The best thing about berries is that they are low in calories – only 50 to 100 calories per cup, and are high in Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Remember antioxidants and fiber are linked to prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease.
Ohio State University Extension; Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5511.pdf
The University of Maine, Cooperative Extension; Vegetables and Fruits for Health: Raspberries and Blackberries: http://extension.umaine.edu/publications/4267e/.
Produce for Better Health Foundation, Fruits and Veggies More Matters: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fruit-nutrition-database.
Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties, email@example.com.