Summer in Minnesota would not be complete without enjoying delicious berries. Minnesota -grown strawberries are at their peak in June, but are often still available the first part of July. Blueberries and raspberries are at their peak in July. Because of the cool spring, many berries are a few weeks late this year.
In addition to tasting good, berries are good for you. Berries are naturally low in fat and sodium. That's great for your heart. Blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are good for your eyes and brain.
Nothing is more frustrating to buy fresh berries and have them mold or go bad before you can enjoy them.
Keep berries fresh
Remember that berries are delicate fruits that require careful handling from the time you purchase them until you eat them.
Whether you purchase berries from a farmers market or the store, you should look for berries that are plump, firm, and bright in color. Avoid berries that are dried out or moldy.
Berries should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator.
The amount of time berries keep varies depending on age when purchased and storage conditions. Typically unwashed berries last as follows:
- Raspberries: 1-2 days
- Strawberries: 1-3 days
- Blueberries: up to 7 days.
Wash berries when you are ready to eat them. To wash, place berries in a colander and run cool water over the berries. Gently toss the berries around in the colander so all berries get washed well. Pat dry with paper towels if desired.
Once berries are washed, they need to be used in the next day for peak quality and freshness. If you are unable to use berries in a day or two, freeze them.
Freeze berries and save!
If you see a great deal on berries, buy extra! You can freeze berries easily to preserve what you don't eat right away. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. When berries are frozen, you can put them in a bag or container. Because they are individually frozen, you can take them out as needed. You can eat the berries frozen or let them thaw.
Here are some easy ways you can enjoy berries this summer:
• Start the morning with a yogurt parfait
• Top your favorite hot or cold cereal with fresh or frozen berries.
• Enjoy a fresh berries in a bowl for a snack or dessert
• Add to berries to salads. Try a Spinach and Strawberry Salad for starters
• Cool off with a Berry Smoothie
• Use a variety of berries to make a fruit kabob
• Be creative. There are endless ways you can add these berries to foods and meals you already eat.
• Be adventurous. If you have only eaten blueberries, try strawberries or raspberries.
If you are looking for a fun summer outing this summer, go to a berry farm and pick your own berries. You can find a list of berry farms in your area on the Minnesota Grown website. Or if you prefer to let someone else do the picking, the Minnesota Grown website will also give you a listing of local farmers markets where you can buy berries.