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Organic Berries: Pick the Season's Sweetest Stars

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, May 29, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

Sweet! There’s just no other way to describe organic blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries ... well, besides the fact that they’re deliciously juicy, bursting with flavor, perfectly ripe and ready to enjoy right now.

Picking berries Our produce buyers and field inspectors work closely with growers to offer you the berry best (hehe) in flavor, color, size and freshness. But what should you look for when choosing luscious organic berries in the store?

Here’s a field guide:

Blueberries. Look for firm, dry, plump berries with a subtle, whitish bloom (natural powdery coating)

Strawberries. Choose firm, dry berries that are uniform in color with a good sheen and fresh green caps attached

Raspberries. Pick plump, dry and even-colored berries — some varieties have a natural bloom and some have a shinier appearance

Blackberries. Reach for berries deep in color with a nice sheen. Ideal color ranges from deep blue/purple to deep purple/black

Tip: When in doubt, ask any Team Member for a taste! (It’s really no trouble. Just ask.)

Storing berries So you’ve picked the best berries of the bunch, have a basket ripe for devouring, but you’re not ready to eat just yet. Here are three tips to help you preserve summer’s bounty.

  • Don’t wash berries until you’re just about to serve them
  • Store your berries in the refrigerator
  • For maximum enjoyment, consume berries as soon as possible after purchase. (I mean really, why wait?)

Anytime, anywhere One of the best things about enjoying organic berries is that they’re a perfect match for nearly any meal or snack – anywhere! Here are our picks for easy and delicious ways to celebrate these versatile seasonal standouts.

  • Balance flavor and nutrients in your green smoothie by adding fresh or frozen berries.
  • Freeze berries and water or juice in ice cube trays to cool iced tea, lemonade or sparkling water.
  • Layer berries, granola and yogurt for a delightful breakfast parfait.
  • Gently toss berries in powdered sugar and a splash of organic balsamic vinegar, and let sit for about five minutes for a quick sauce to spoon over vanilla ice cream or lemon panna cotta.
  • When adding berries to pancake batter, dust lightly with flour and add them last to keep them from sinking in the batter bowl.
  • Top grilled flatbreads or split pita pockets with sweetened mascarpone and berries for dessert pizzas.

  • Bake into muffins, cakes, cobblers or crumbles. Arrange berries in a design on top of a custard-filled tart shell for an elegant dessert.
  • Add berries to spinach salads with fresh goat cheese, toasted slivered almonds and citrus vinaigrette.

How do you enjoy organic summer berries? Do you experiment with savory-sweet dishes and snacks? Or are you a traditionalist, who sticks to eating berries as a sweet treat at breakfast or dessert time?




Annemarie says ...
I love organic summer berries! There are so many ways to enjoy them. My family loves strawberry cupcakes for a healthy summertime treat: http://realfoodrealdeals.com/2012/05/25/strawberry-cupcakes/.
05/29/2012 1:25:48 PM CDT
Jerri says ...
I love strawberries best & so many ways. One of my favorites is this snack with them on pumpernickel w/goat cheese, honey & mint - http://www.cooking4carnivores.com/2011/04/afternoon-delight.html?m=0 Of course, it is hard to beat a blackberry cobble though :)
05/30/2012 2:55:45 PM CDT
Kim says ...
I love, love, love berries. But every time I've gone into WF lately, all the berries were conventionally grown. No berries for me. :(
05/30/2012 3:07:35 PM CDT
Nicole R. says ...
If one wants to avoid dangerous toxic chemical found on conventional grown berries one should eat only organically grown ones. In the book Eat Well to Live conventionally grown berries are listed in the dirty dozen, and should only be consumed if grown organically. Thank you for provide fresh organic produce in season.
05/30/2012 3:19:12 PM CDT
Katrina Moody says ...
Love fresh berries - nothing sweeter and I can't wait to start getting this summer's fresh crop in. Our favorites? Blueberries in fresh whole grain pancakes and muffins. Yum!
05/30/2012 3:22:05 PM CDT
Maria says ...
Are the berries all grown in this country?
05/30/2012 3:33:16 PM CDT
Jacqueline Earley says ...
Your half cup baskets of berries at $5.00 - $7.00 are capitalist exploitation at it's most organic level of corporate greed. By the way, we grew up on a farm and picked blackberries by the bucketfull in the woods, free. Our blueberries and blackberries were priced for poor people at $3.00 a quart. Your half cup basket didn't even existthen, nor your airfilled 2/3 empty bags of chips etc. Hope you zillionaire WF store owners get to be born poor. Right now the rich will keep taking care of their own. I am organically cynical about your alledged "organics" and sick of the crowds of rich people checking out carloads of food while I walk out with two "organic" bananas and an air sandwich. Oh you have't start selling organic air yet but you're working on it I am sure.
05/30/2012 3:39:20 PM CDT
Judith Bakos says ...
Try blueberry or strawberry salsa served with chips made from egg roll wrappers baked until crispy. Healthy, low fat, and best of all, delicious!
05/30/2012 3:56:52 PM CDT
Connie Zage says ...
I agree with the below post from Jacqueline Earley about Whole Foods organics are priced out of the average-persons range for produce. It also bothers me that your organic price often "looks" like a good deal, but then it states "per pound" in small print. MeijerandKroger have much better organic prices than does WF. Thank you for offering one-day organic specials. Those have been very good prices. Your employees are wonderfully helpful and friendly.
05/30/2012 4:16:35 PM CDT
Julie says ...
Great put them on sale, since we grow many right here in SC County!
05/30/2012 4:45:55 PM CDT
Diane says ...
Why carry conventional at all (esp. when in season) when they're laden with pesticides?
05/30/2012 4:50:24 PM CDT
Barbara Baker says ...
I was told that local berries are best (as local growers are as close to organic as possible- due to the fact that it takes years to become 100 organic)- It makes sense to buy local (in season) rather than organics from across the country. What I don't understand is that the prices don't go down (in season) at all. Especially with blueberries. They remain a fortune this year and I wonder if anyone has an answer to that? By the way, it's not necessary to buy organic bananas, so you can save money there!!! It's easy to access a list of what is important to buy organic and what is not.
05/30/2012 5:22:41 PM CDT
Cindy says ...
Jacqueline- Why such hatred? Just grow your own berries my friend. No one is forcing you to shop at WF or eat strawberries. Life is too short to be so bitter!
05/30/2012 6:43:01 PM CDT
Donna says ...
To Jacqueline Early, ...and gas was once 75cents per gallon!
05/30/2012 8:12:56 PM CDT
Mae says ...
You are promoting fresh org. berries, but the price was nowhere to be found. Customers need prices!!!
05/30/2012 8:23:26 PM CDT
Joanne says ...
The prices annoy me, too, but Jacqueline, the air in bags of chips is to keep them from being crushed (still pay attention to the weight you're paying for), and there's little reason to get bananas organic because they are fairly protected from chemicals. Save that money for the berries, which are fully exposed.
05/30/2012 8:56:58 PM CDT
Raja says ...
Jacqqueline is right in her observations. WF inflates the price of organics to maximize its profits without a conscience to business ethics. While this is a free country with free markets, the authenticity of organics need to be questioned on a continuous basis. The prices are of course 40% higher for similar organics found elsewhere like TJs, Meijers, Jewel-Osco and local grocery stores and consumer markets.
05/31/2012 6:51:08 AM CDT
Laurie Johnson says ...
Jacqueline the subject is berries and how delicious they are NOT negative commentary. There are many non "rich" people that choose to buy organic. Shopping at WF just like you we buy what we can afford. There are many "rich" people that choose to buy organic at WF just like you. The "rich" people can afford to buy more than 2 bananas if they choose. I am one of those people you see checking out car loads of food while you buy your two bananas. I am not rich I travel far to shop at WF and offer to pick up items for family and friends that also appreciate WF organic products. So the next time you see someone checking out with carloads of foods remember what you see on the surface is not always as it seems. Just be happy you can afford your two organic bananas many in this world can't even afford that and would think your excessive with two!
05/31/2012 7:27:09 AM CDT
Megan says ...
@Mae Prices vary depending on store region and availability. Check with your local store for the most accurate prices!
05/31/2012 8:56:39 AM CDT
Carol R. says ...
I have to agree with Jacqueline. I go to WF all the time in an effort to eat healthy ... and I'm a fan of the store. But do your prices really have to be so high? In this economy, it's a burden.
05/31/2012 9:01:36 AM CDT
Debbie K. says ...
Hey there - I just have two things to add. 1. The article above says to preserve your berries longer you should avoid washing until ready to eat, however, if you rinse the berries in a 1/10 vinegar/water solution, pat dry, and store in the fridge they will last a whole lot longer. The vinegar kills the bacteria that causes mold to grow and the dilution is so weak that you never taste it. :) 2. I agree that WF is pricey. For me (a VERY not rich person) its a matter of convenience to be able to walk into the store and trust that the items I strongly feel that I need to buy organic are available without me having to go back and do the research on my own. I shop with coupons for my paper goods, etc. at different stores. I also take advantage of the awesome local farmers market whenever I get the opportunity. The economy is a stress for everyone right now, for sure. But honestly, maybe we should just be thankful that we get to make the choice to shop wherever our hearts desire???
05/31/2012 10:59:32 AM CDT
Karen says ...
I agree also with Jacqueline. WF is very expensive for most people (remember the 99% who are not billionaires). And while there may be other less fortunate people in the world, that does not mean that Americans with less means do not deserve to be able to eat healthy food. We are not speaking here about designer clothing. We are discussing food that can make a significant difference in our health. Even poorer people deserve to be able to buy food that won't make them sick. Those pesiticides are dangerous, and berries have tons of them.
05/31/2012 12:13:43 PM CDT
Corduval says ...
My mother taught me a good way to store berries. Take a flat refrigerator storage container (glass with lid or tupper-type)and place paper towels or a clean cloth in the bottom. Place the unwashed berries on top of the towels, spaced so they don't touch other. Snap on the lid, making sure that there is a bit of headroom over the berries. Fresh berries stored this way will last a good week and be there for your cereal or other eating pleasures.
05/31/2012 12:33:27 PM CDT
Ellen K. says ...
Wow! So much passion about what we eat & what we pay. While organic berries at WF are expensive, I haven't found them less costly (often even not organic) elsewhere in eastern MA. I shop sales at WF & find organic is often less than shopping elsewhere. Personally I'm delighted & grateful there is a WF near enough to shop at weekly. Re bananas, no need to buy organic, as noted. If something is beyond my budget, I don't get it. However, I'm glad for those who can. Counting my blessings. Enjoyed a strawberry & Haitian mangoe shortcake last weekend. Yummmmm!
05/31/2012 6:33:24 PM CDT
Kaysha says ...
Never thought of adding berries to a spinach salad. I have to try it. Thanks for the tips!
06/01/2012 12:48:02 AM CDT