Orders Placed M-F by 3:30pm EDT Ship Same Day!

1-888-762-8642

 

A Guide to Summer Berries

Berry season is the time of the summer where you get to venture out into the fields, your own reusable containers in hand, and have a go at picking fresh berries right from the plant to take back home and enjoy. Prepare by throwing on clothing you won’t mind getting stained with streaks of purple or red berry juice. Get some cash together to take to the farm as most farms operate their pick your own berry stands right out on the field and prefer cash transactions.

Berries come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors meaning there’s a berry for everyone to love. Once you’ve gotten your berries, its wise to use them up as quickly as possible because they will grow mold rather quickly. If you do happen to find some mold on a berry or two, quickly discard them as mold tends to spread quickly!


What is a Berry?

You may think this is a silly question, but some of the fruits we call berries are not actually berries. For this post, we are going to refer to berries as they are generally understood, not as they are botanically known. Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit with seeds on the inside. Bananas, eggplants, and chiles are all fruits, included in this definition! By this definition however, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are not. However, we will talk about these three fruits in this blog because they are colloquially called berries.


Strawberries

Strawberries are easily identifiable and are the iconic berry of the summertime. They are in season from May to August depending on where you are from the United States. Full of antioxidants, ripe strawberries are full, firm, and plump. The perfect berries are deep red, shiny, and they won’t have any green or yellow spots on them. Green and yellow spots are indicative of sourness, and that the berries aren’t fully ripe. Strawberries do not continue to ripen once they’ve been removed from their plant, so you should only pick berries that look fully ready to go! Don’t count on small green berries ripening any more once they’ve been picked.

Strawberries are perfect for recipes like strawberry shortcake or strawberry jam. Try your hand at making some homemade jelly donuts, incorporating strawberries into the jelly!


Blueberries

Blueberries are second to strawberries in terms of summertime consumption in the United States. They are also full of antioxidants and health benefits, including memory improvement. Blueberry picking season ranges from May to September, depending on where you are in the United States. When choosing your blueberries, look for firm, plump, round berries. When they begin to soften and wrinkle it is best to discard the berries as this is the first indication of spoilage. Blueberries are quite bouncy and free moving around their containers, and if you shake them they should roll about freely. If you notice your berries are sticking to the walls of the container, check for mold as they will become soft and sticky as mold forms.

While blueberries are most beneficial to us when eaten plain by the handful, some blueberries are better than none! Fresh form the farm is the best way to enjoy them, but baking them into muffins or pies is a good option to up your blueberry intake. Try them in a fruit tart and pair them with strawberries and onions for a delightfully colorful red white and blue salsa.


Raspberries

Raspberries are incredible. Not only do they taste delicious and have an interesting look to them, they also have anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to help reduce the risk of cancer. Raspberry picking season extends from late July all the way into October, a later summer berry that will help you cling to the last tendrils of warmth as the autumnal winds begin to creep into the air. Raspberries should be picked when firm and should be stored in loose quarters. When enclosed in a space too tightly with other raspberries, they will begin to soften and break down faster. Raspberries need to breathe and thus should not be stored somewhere with little airflow. Do not store your raspberries in the crisper drawer of your fridge as that area of the fridge will have little circulation. Once the berries begin to get soft or mushy, dispose of them. Raspberries tend to only last a few days in the fridge, so eat these up very quickly!

They fit right into your morning breakfast routine as they work well in oatmeal, cereal, and yogurts. Both in color and flavor, raspberries are incomparable.


Blackberries

Blackberries are full of vitamin C and delicious flavor. Research suggests that blackberries are also great cancer fighters and preventers. Blackberries should be firm in the same way that raspberries are, and they will easily come off the plant when they are ready to be picked. Look for uniform color in the berry for the best flavor. The growing season for blackberries ranges from July and ends in October, another one of those lingering summer berries that will validate your continued denial of the fall.

Blackberries make for excellent pies and cobblers, but you can sprinkle a handful on your salads and add to dishes with feta cheese for a savory sweet juxtaposition.


What’s the Difference Between Raspberries and Blackberries?

Surprisingly, the difference between raspberries and blackberries is quite simple. The blackberry has a stem fragment inside of it, larger protective hairs, and large single cells that bulge out. Raspberries and black raspberries are smaller, have a hollow center, and a sweeter, tarter flavor profile than blackberries. Black raspberries are rare and hard to find, but blackberries are rather common.


Boysenberries

Boysenberries are hard to find and yet they are worth the search. Developed in the 1920s, in California, they are a thin-skinned berry that bruises and decays rather easily. They are also tricky to pick because they burst easily, but when you get a perfect boysenberry that is both sweet and slightly tart, you are in for a perfect treat. Boysenberries are a hybrid of blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries and as such have a similar growing seasonality as a late summer, early fall fruit.

Use just ripe boysenberries to make pies, jams, and sauces.


Huckleberries

Huckleberries are most famous for their association with Huckleberry Finn, but they are also the state fruit of Idaho. They look similar to blueberries, but range in color from a deep blue to an almost eggplant purple. These berries are best when firm and plump and they should have a uniform skin. Huckleberry skin will rip when the berries have become overly ripe or when they start to go bad. They are available for a short time, between June and early September. You won’t find these commercially, so you must go to a farm for some good huckleberries. They are rare and more expensive, but if you can find them, they make for fantastic pies and yogurt mix-ins. Try them in pancakes or make a compote with them!


Gooseberries

Gooseberries are probably the most unique looking berry on this list and are also probably the least familiar except to those who are true berry enthusiasts. They look like green grapes with little veins and hairs, but they are much tarter than a green grape would be and they taste amazing in pies and in savory recipes where you need a little bit of that mouth puckering flavor. They were extremely popular until the 1900s when their growth was banned based on the attempt at stopping the spread of a disease called “white pine blister rust” these fruits helped spread. These berries can be picked from May to August. Look for berries with even firmness, avoiding any berries that have soft spots or signs of decay. These berries also get wet as they begin to break down, so look for berries with dry skin.

Try pairing gooseberries with vanilla heavy recipes. They taste good with vanilla pudding, vanilla cakes, and make for a great flavor partner to chamomile in jams. They are also good when eaten as a snack paired with whipped cream.


How do I Extend the Shelf Life of my Summer Berries?

Once you get your berries home, you can give them a quick bath to extend their shelf life. If you have a salad spinner, fill it with water, a cup of vinegar, and a single drop of dish soap. Toss in your berries, let them soak for a few seconds, and then swish them around. Rinse them thoroughly and then lay them out on a clean towel to dry. Line your storage containers with clean paper towels or a clean cloth towel and then put the berries back into storage after they’ve dried. Try replacing the towels as they get wet and remember to discard any berries with undesirable markings or signs of mold.

We have one final tip. If you are planning on using your berries in something the same day they were picked, leave them in the fridge for about an hour before you use them! This will make them a little bit firmer! Now, throw on those old clothes and get to berry picking!


Read More

Best Fruit and Vegetable Seasonings
Eating Well on a Budget
A Salsa for Every Occasion
A Definitive Guide to All the Berries You Want to Eat This Summer

Pennsylvania Pepper

Pennsylvania Pepper

Click here to read more!

Pizza Seasoning

Pizza Seasoning

Click here to read more!

Ground Cumin

Ground Cumin

Click here to read more!

Smoked Sweet Paprika

Smoked Sweet Paprika

Click here to read more!

Black Tellicherry Peppercorns

Black Tellicherry Peppercorns

Click here to read more!

California Granulated Garlic

California Granulated Garlic

Click here to read more!

Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Powder

Click here to read more!

Tuscany Bread Dipping Seasoning

Tuscany Bread Dipping Seasoning

Click here to read more!

California Garlic Powder

California Garlic Powder

Click here to read more!

Flippin the Bird

Flippin the Bird

Click here to read more!

Loading...

Ready to be inspired?

Discover a rabbit hole of blogs, recipes, and spices that you won't find anywhere else