These tips can help you choose and use berries optimally:
- Select your berries carefully. They should be plump, firm, and dry, not crushed, withered, or mixed with twigs or other debris. Size doesn’t matter, but color does. Choose blueberries that are deep blue-purple, not red. Look for bright red strawberries with green caps attached. With some exceptions (like golden raspberries), green and yellow berries are unripe.
- Refrigerate berries, but don’t wash them until you eat them to slow spoilage. Eat fresh blueberries within a week; consume raspberries and blackberries sooner, because they are even more perishable.
- Freeze extra berries. If you wash them first, make sure they are thoroughly dry; toss any that are mushy, discolored, or moldy; and cut off the green tops of strawberries. Arrange the berries on a baking tray or cookie sheet in a single layer and put in the freezer for no more than a day (longer than that can result in freezer burn). Seal the berries in plastic freezer bags after removing the air inside, and lay the bags flat in the freezer if possible. They will keep for about 10 months to a year (put a date on the bag to keep track) and are best used in smoothies or in cooking.
- Berry juices are increasingly available, but they are expensive and are often mainly grape juice. Watch out for syrups in canned berries, which add empty calories. Berry jams retain only minuscule amounts of vitamin C and are mostly sugar. Dried berries may also have fewer nutrients and added sugar.
- Add fresh, frozen, or dried berries to salads, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, pancake or muffin batter, and grain dishes.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Published July 31, 2020