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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > Enjoying Minnesota Berries

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Enjoying Minnesota Berries

By Mary Schroeder, Extension educator and registered dietitian

Summer in Minnesota would not be complete without enjoying delicious berries. Minnesota-grown strawberries are at their peak in June, but are often still available the first part of July. Blueberries and raspberries are at their peak in July.

In addition to tasting good, berries are good for you. Berries are naturally low in fat and sodium. That's great for your heart. Blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are good for your eyes and brain.

white bowl of blueberries

Keep Berries Fresh

Nothing is more frustrating to buy fresh berries and have them mold or go bad before you can enjoy them. Remember that berries are delicate fruits that require careful handling from the time you purchase them until you eat them.

Whether you purchase berries from a farmers market or the store, look for berries that are plump, firm, and bright in color. Avoid berries that are dried out or moldy.

Berries should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator.

The amount of time berries keep varies depending on how fresh they are when you buy them and how you store them. Unwashed berries usually last as follows:
  • Raspberries: 1 to 2 days
  • Strawberries: 1 to 3 days
  • Blueberries: up to 7 days.

How to Wash Berries

Always wash fresh berries before eating.

strawberries washing in colander

To wash, place berries in a colander or strainer and run cool water over the berries. Gently toss the berries around in the colander so all berries get washed well. Pat dry with paper towels if desired.

Once berries are washed, they need to be used in the next day for peak quality and freshness. If you are unable to use berries in a day or two, freeze them.

Freeze Berries and Save Money

If you see a great deal on berries, buy extra! You can easily freeze berries to preserve what you don't eat right away.
  • Place the berries in a colander and dip into a bowl or sink full of cool water. Gently swish the berries, then drain well.
  • Place the berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer.;
  • When berries are frozen, put them in a bag or container.
Because they are individually frozen, you can take out small amounts as needed. You can eat the berries frozen or let them thaw.

8 Ways to Enjoy Berries

Here are some easy ways you can enjoy berries this summer:

1. Start the morning with a yogurt berry parfait. 

Try this Crunchy Berry Parfait from the USDA Mixing Bowl.

three glass bowls with yogurt, strawberries, and granola

2. Top your favorite hot or cold cereal with fresh or frozen berries.

3. Add to berries to salads. 

Try this Strawberry, Spinach and Walnut Salad from Saratoga Farmers' Market.

4. Blend berries into a smoothie.

Cool off with this blueberry (and spinach!) smoothie.

glass blender with spinach, raspberries, blueberries, and bananas

5. Enjoy a fresh berries in a bowl for a snack or dessert.

6. Use a variety of berries to make a fruit kabob. 

Try Fruit Kabobs With Yogurt from North Dakota State University Extension.

7. Add them to homemade popsicles. 

Try Yogurt & Honey Popsicles from Simply Shellie.

two yogurt and honey popsicles with berries on a blue plate

8. Add berries to a pitcher of water to infuse the water with great taste. 

See Pass the water, please! from Michigan State University Extension.

glass pitcher of water with ice, fruit, and mint

Farm Fresh Berries

If you are looking for a fun summer outing this summer, go to a berry farm and pick your own berries. You can find a list of berry farms in your area on the Minnesota Grown website.

Or if you prefer to let someone else do the picking, the Minnesota Grown website will also give you a listing of local farmers markets where you can buy berries.


Hope Moulton said...

I just love this site, the people at my Employment & Training class (Job Club) loved making the 3 recipes that you highlighted. We broke into 3 different groups and each group made one of the recipes and than they shared samples with the other 2 groups. Wonderful, wonderful.
Thank you,

Mary Schroeder said...

I'm glad they enjoyed the recipes. Over July 4, I heard a news feature that Minnesota strawberries were about 3 weeks behind schedule, but were now ready for harvest. Even thought it is late, it sounds like the strawberries are good and worth the wait. What a great time to try these and other strawberry recipes.

R. Heins said...

Nice sharing of good, current, useable information! Thank you!

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