Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Berries 101: The Best For Your Bucks

By Molly Siegler, May 28, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Molly Siegler

Blueberries

When berry season begins in earnest, I feel like I’ve won the culinary lottery. Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries – are the perfect adornment for a bowl of oatmeal and make excellent afternoon snacks, but do you know how to handle this summertime windfall?

Bonus: Keep your eyes peeled for less common varieties: currants, mulberries, gooseberries or huckleberries, and handle them with the same care you use with other berry season standbys.

Pick the Best

Color

  • Berries should be uniformly and richly colored.
  • Don’t worry about the hazy white “bloom” on blueberries – that’s a normal bloom berries form as a protective shield from the sun.
  • Avoid berries with brown patches or discoloring, which could indicate under-ripe or damaged berries.

Size

  • Size doesn’t really affect the flavor profile of the berries, though tiny berries can be more concentrated in flavor.
  • Wild berries tend to be much smaller than their cultivated counterparts.

Shape

  • Berries should be plump and firm.
  • If berries are wrinkled or shrunken, they may be drying out and past their prime.

Anything Else?

  • Berries should be dry and intact – if the berry carton is wet or has splotches of juice on the sides, some of the berries are likely overripe and could be moldy.
  • A good test is to give the container a gentle shake – the berries should move freely in the package.

Lemonade Ice with Whipped Yogurt

Store and Savor

Storage

  • Store unwashed berries in the refrigerator.
  • Berries are delicate, so consume them as soon as possible after purchase; blueberries can last up to a week.
  • Only wash berries just before you plan to use them.
  • To freeze berries for smoothies or baked good down the road, allow gently washed berries to dry completely (don’t forget to hull the strawberries first). Next, place the berries in a single layer on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze until firm. Store frozen berries in resealable plastic freezer bags.

Preparation

  • Berries can be flavorful additions to sweet and savory dishes alike.
  • Dice strawberries, then toss with lime juice and flecks of hot peppers for a spirited summer salsa.
  • Skewer blueberries along with other seasonal darlings like cantaloupe, pitted cherries and peaches for fun poolside snack.
  • Cap all your fingertips with upturned raspberries and have a snack on the go – but you’ll want more than that, so fold whole raspberries into your favorites pudding for a bright warm-weather dessert.
  • Quickly simmer blackberries with a splash of sweet wine, then serve over grilled chicken or fish.

Traditional Strawberry Shortcake

Traditional Strawberry Shortcake

Do you have any great berry season tips? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

Category: Produce, summer

 

12 Comments

Comments

Pamela says ...
I love blueberries! Great tip on freezing! I normally just wash them and throw them in a freezer bag. Of course they are all stuck together. I will try freezing them on a cookie sheet next time. I use this method when I am making homemade fishsticks that I want to cook at a later time. I also like the tip on selecting a container of fresh blueberries. Thanks!
05/28/2013 11:02:30 AM CDT
marmaladesky says ...
My most favorite food on earth...I wait all year for fresh blueberries! When they are at their peak I buy them by the case and freeze them, and I always end up wishing I could have fit more in the freezer! :)
05/28/2013 9:46:19 PM CDT
Robin Taylor says ...
I read this tip years ago and always do this to keep my blue or black berries fresher longer---- rinse them in cool water with a teaspoon of white vinegar.
05/29/2013 8:52:00 PM CDT
Nancy McGill says ...
I did not know that blueberries should only be washed before use or freezing. Thank you!!
05/30/2013 6:45:58 AM CDT
Mary32259 says ...
Make Strawberry Balsamic salad dressing: 1c. Ripe Strawberries Pinch of kosher salt 1/4 t. Freshly ground Black Pepper 1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar (can use fresh lemon or lime juice for different flavor) 1/4 c. Canola oil (also works well with grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil) Blend until smooth (if to thick add water a little at a time until desired thickness) Will last up to 2 days in fridge
05/30/2013 9:52:11 AM CDT
michael plaminek says ...
Sigh, no organic rasberries or blackberries for ages now. Target has them and Whole foods does not, what's up with that?
05/30/2013 6:55:38 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MICHAEL - So sorry to hear that. Were you able to ask the store directly why they are not able to get them in? If not, let us know which location and we can help find out!
06/03/2013 4:41:16 PM CDT
EP says ...
Set out a carton of vanilla ice cream (I prefer vanilla bean) and allow to soften. Add good quality balsamic vinegar, stir, and refreeze. Serve ice cream with fresh strawberries and a few drops of balsamic. Amazing summer dessert.
06/04/2013 11:10:29 AM CDT
ron says ...
do you sell aronia berries(chokeberry)?
06/13/2013 3:29:33 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@RON - Our products vary between locations so check with your local store to see what they have in stock!
06/13/2013 5:15:16 PM CDT
Angie says ...
Hello I was just wondering I noticed tiny animals (2) crawling in plate of black berries and rasberries I was eating? Ewww... They were super super tiny I would have missed had I not been staring right at them move!. Do these berries contain such insects??
08/05/2013 11:37:03 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@ANGIE - Since berries are grown outdoors, it can happen that little insects can hide in the containers. If you are looking to avoid these hiding out, try to look for berries that are conventional as farmers are able to use different pesticides compared to organic farming. Another option would be to look for a fruit/veggie wash for sale in the Produce department.
08/05/2013 2:02:10 PM CDT