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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Produce Guide: Berries

Summer Berries Berry season, and all of its glory (like chocolate covered strawberries), is finally here! Get ready for a full week of berry delicious things from Hilary Stone Soup, including a dessert recipe on Wednesday with strawberries and blackberries.

Summer doesn't just mean sunshine, beach, and warm weather. It also means beautiful and delicious produce at the farmer's market and grocery store. So, in honor of all the fabulous produce, I'm sharing some produce guides and produce-focused recipes.

Summer Berries This week produce guide is for everyone's favorite, berries! Don't forget to check back on Wednesday for a great recipe.

Buying:

Strawberries: First and foremost, buy organic strawberries. Strawberries have some of the highest pesticide levels, even after washing. The next two things to look for are color and smell. Most grocery store varieties of strawberries are bright red at the height of ripeness, and pale color typically indicates the farmer was a little too eager to pick the berry. The strawberries should smell extremely fragrant and delicious. Shape and size shouldn't be priorities--often the smaller berries are the most flavorful!
Summer BerriesBlackberries/Raspberries: Smell is equally important with blackberries and raspberries. If you can't smell the berries, don't buy it. If you see the hull on these berries, it means the berry isn't ripe enough. If you see staining or mold inside, then the berry is too ripe. Consumer in 2 days--blackberries and raspberries do not last long.

Blueberries: Look for a frosty-blue berry that is plump and firm. Shriveled berries and any mold on the bottom of the package is a bad sign. 

Storing:

Overall, moisture is the enemy here. There's nothing worse than paying for berries, only to find that they are moldy after a few days. To get rid of pesky mold spores, you're going to give your berries a vinegar bath. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups water with 1 cup of vinegar, and then give you berries a nice dunk. 

Afterwards, rinse the berries in a colander under cold water. This will get rid of any lingering vinegar taste. Then, to get rid of the moisture, you'll want to dry the berries very thoroughly. To help with drying, you can actually line your salad spinner with 3 layers of paper towels, and then spin your berries for 15 seconds to dry them. 

Store the berries in a paper-towel lined plastic container, with the lid partially off to allow moisture to escape. 
Summer BerriesTheses tips will help your berries stay fresh for all of your recipes! 

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