We’re coming into the time of year when warm, sun-ripened fruits are at their peak. Berries are a favorite for their sweet, delicious flavor that works in everything from cobblers to waffle toppings to sauces for grilled meats.
However, berries are more perishable than many other fruits, so take extra care when handling them. To make the most of these delicious summer fruits, I offer a few tips for choosing, washing, storing and freezing.
Tips for Choosing Fresh Berries
- Once berries are picked – they won’t ripen further. So, choose berries that are plump and richly colored.
- Avoid packages with crushed or moldy berries! Open the plastic box and look inside for any signs of mold.
- For blueberries, select the ones that are completely blue with no tinge of red. The natural shimmery silver coating that you see on blueberries is desirable as it is a natural protectant.
- When purchasing strawberries, shop with your nose. Always pick the plumpest and most fragrant ones. They should be firm, bright and fresh looking. If possible, choose strawberries with the stems attached as they’ll last the longest.
Washing and Storing Fresh Berries
- For anyone who has spent a day picking berries, you know how stained your fingertips can become. That’s because warm or room temperature berries tend to break more easily.
- When you bring berries home, it’s a good idea to put them in the refrigerator for a bit before washing them. Cold berries will hold up better to washing and handling.
- Don’t rinse them until just before you plan to use them – they spoil quickly when damp.
- Store berries in small shallow containers uncovered in the refrigerator.
Freezing Fresh Berries
- Start by thoroughly washing berries pat dry.
- Place berries on a cookie sheet and let freeze until solid.
- Once frozen, transfer to an airtight storage container or freezer bag.
- Properly prepared and frozen berries will last for nine months.