Q. What are certain things I should look for when selecting berries for recipes?
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A. The following is a list of things to consider when choosing fresh berries.
Availability: Summer is berry season when blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are plentiful; strawberries are available most of the year but generally lower in price from April though July. Look for the sweetest berries at local farmers' markets.
Buying Tips: All berries should be plump and free of mold. They should have a fruity berry aroma. Check containers for crushed berries. (Berries packed in paperboard containers will have juice stains on the bottom if berries are crushed.) Crushed berries mold quickly.
- Avoid raspberries and blackberries with stems and hulls attached; this is an indication that they have been picked before they have fully ripened.
- Strawberries should be shiny and bright red in color.
- Blueberries should have a silvery film, called bloom, which is a sign that they were picked recently.
Storage Tips: To extend the shelf life of all berries, keep them refrigerated; do not wash them until just before use and periodically check them, discarding any moldy ones. Blueberries will keep up to ten days, strawberries for three to four days, and raspberries and blackberries for just a day or two. To increase the shelf-life of very delicate berries, such as raspberries and blackberries, remove them from their container, spread them in a single layer in a shallow dish, cover and store in the refrigerator.