Berry season is upon us! These plump, juicy jewels are a healthy food lover’s delight, packed with sweet-tart flavor, endless culinary possibilities, lots of fiber and antioxidants– all for very few calories.
Buy them: Look for plump and firm berries that are free from mold and are bright in color. Your nose knows what’s good, so give them a quick sniff and pick ones that smell sweet.
Store them: Since berries are quite delicate and prone to mold, take them out of the container when you get home and spread them out in single layer, or as loosely as possible, so none get squished and air can circulate around them. Refrigerate berries you are not planning to eat that day, and hold off on rinsing them until right before you are ready to enjoy. To prolong their storage life, try this method described by Harold McGee in the New York Times.
Freeze them: Stock up on berries now, in their prime season, to freeze for use throughout the year. To prevent them from clumping together, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once the individual berries are frozen, toss them in a freezer friendly bag.
Use them: Of course berries can be eaten on their own, tossed into cereal or yogurt, blended into smoothies and topped with a dollop of cream, but they can also be used as a base for cold soups, added to salsas and barbecue sauces, infused into cocktails and baked into muffins, cookies and pancakes.
Here are some of my favorite berry-inspired recipes: