How to buy and store berries
- Rich in vitamin C, the berry family includes blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, gooseberries, mulberries, raspberries, red currants and strawberries.
- Once berries have been picked they won’t ripen any further so it’s important to look for fruit that is plump with a deep colour and perfumed fragrance. To check for ripeness, turn the punnet upside down. If the berries stain the lid or appear mushy they may be overripe and should be avoided as they are then only good for making jam.
- It’s best to refrigerate berries in their packaging or on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Berries also freeze well. Spread soft berries (raspberries and strawberries) out on a tray lined with baking paper and freeze for a few hours. Once frozen put them in a plastic bag or container and freeze for up to three months. To separate frozen berries simply run them under a little cold water.
- Be careful when washing berries like raspberries as their little cavity tends to trap water. Do not remove the hulls from berries before you wash them because they can absorb some of the water. The hull acts like a “plug”.
How to eat berries
- Mash fresh raspberries and strawberries with a potato masher and mix through slightly softened vanilla ice cream for a ripple effect. Then re-freeze the ice cream until firm.
- Blitz a handful of mixed berries with yoghurt and a tablespoon of muesli for a breakfast smoothie.
- Dip fresh strawberries into melted chocolate for a no-fuss dinner-party dessert.
- Fold blueberries through a basic crumpet mix.
- Make a strawberry and feta salad. Add peppery fresh rocket and finish with a good grinding of black pepper and a slug of olive oil.
- Add some balsamic vinegar and torn basil to your strawberries, toss and serve.
- When making apple sauce for your roast pork, add a few red currants to the apples and sugar, and cook to form a sweet fragrant sauce.
- To make a quick berry purée or coulis, simply blitz the berries in a food processor then strain through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds.
Great tips for berries
- To prevent berries from sinking to the bottom of baked goods toss them in a little flour when adding them to the batter.
- To remove berry stains from clothing or cooking utensils, rub with a piece of fresh lemon then wash as usual.
- To rescue slightly damaged berries, roll them in a little castor sugar to give them a lovely frosted look.
- Freeze berries before adding them to baked goods as this prevents them from bleeding too much colour into the mixture.
Read more: Our favourite recipes with berries