Tuesday's Tip: Picking Fresh Berries

June 28,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

If there is one area of food and cooking that produces the most interesting methods of doing things, it would be the picking of fresh produce.  I’ve heard and seen all sorts of approaches to making sure the produce you pick is the freshest of the fresh.  Especially this time of the year when fresh produce is peaking in most areas, you want your selections to be as tasty as possible.



Is there anything worse than bringing home a piece of fruit that looks beautiful, smells nice and seems to promise a tasty snack, only to find a mealy, tasteless or sour __(fill in the blank)___.  Everyone has their story, and for me it almost always revolves around peaches.  For me, I have the worst luck with picking good peaches, but in my quest to end bad produce picking, I am going to do a short series of Tuesday’s Tips this summer on picking fresh produce.  Some of the tips I’ve personally used for years, others are ones I have gleaned from family and friends, but I hope all of them will help make this a tasty summer for you and your family.

This week I’ll start with berries:  strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.  These are some of the Sweet Pea family’s favorite fruits and the summer is the peak time in our area to enjoy them.  Here are some tips to help make sure your berries are at their peak:

*Whenever possible, buy local berries.  Berries are extraordinarily perishable, and they taste best when they have been picked at their peak.  Trouble is, once they are picked, some berries only last for a day or two, so eat fast!

*Look for berries without bruises, browning or mushy spots.  Berries that are slightly mushy are indicative of over-ripened berries, or berries past their prime.

*In the case of blackberries and blueberries, avoid berries that are too reddish.  This indicates under-ripe fruit that will lean more toward tart than sweet in their flavor.

*Generally speaking, the darker the berries, the more flavorful, but again, beware of berries that are too dark and mushy, ie, overripe.

*Once home with your berries, only rinse them with water before eating and only do so immediately before you want to eat or cook them.  Berries absorb water and will become mushy if stored with residual water from their washing.

Berries are bountiful this time of year and we find ourselves going through pint after pint in very short order:



Enjoy these berries while they’re at their peak and know that with each bite you are eating lots of good vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants!

SPC