With their bright beautiful color and irresistible sweetness, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are some of summer’s greatest culinary gifts. Here’s a quick guide to shopping for, storing and enjoying fresh berries all season long, plus advice on freezing so you can save some for later.
How to shop for berries
- All berries should look plump and smell fragrant. Check for mold as well as smashed, shriveled or over-ripe berries.
- Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries should be bright and shiny; look for berries with deep, uniform color and avoid strawberries with white or green patches. Blueberries should have a slightly frosty hue, which is a sign of freshness.
How to store berries
- Berries have a short shelf life and should be eaten as soon as possible. Refrigerated, most will last only 2-3 days, but blueberries can last up to a week.
- Before storing, discard any berries that are moldy, smashed, shriveled or over-ripe. Water increases the chance of mold, so wait to wash berries until you’re ready to enjoy them.
- Blackberries and raspberries are particularly fragile and should be stored in a single layer, loosely covered. Blueberries and strawberries can be left in their original packaging. As extra insurance against mold you can place berries on a paper towel to absorb moisture.
- Berries freeze quite well and are great to have on hand for smoothies. Wash and thoroughly dry all berries before freezing; remove the stems from strawberries. Arrange berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the berries to an airtight container or plastic bag and freeze up to 6 months.
How to prepare berries
- Just before using, rinse berries under cold running water. Remove the stems and cut strawberries only when you’re ready to enjoy them.
Blackberry compote: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 cups blackberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 2 tablespoons water. Add to the blackberry mixture and continue simmering, stirring frequently, until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and cinnamon. Let cool, then serve over ice cream or yogurt.