With spring approaching and fresh berries coming into season it is useful to know how to pick out the best ripe berries. When possible it is always better to pick your own berries from a “You-Pick” patch. If you do not have time to pick your own berries buying them directly from the farmer will help ensure you have the ripest berries available. Berries are great for ones diet as they are high in fiber and packed with nutritious phytochemicals. For all types of berries do not wash them until you are ready to use them
When you are picking them yourself hold the whole cluster in your palm. Then slide roll your thumb over the berries. The ripe blueberries will come off the stem. Blueberries are one of the few berries you do not need store in shallow containers. When picking or buying blueberries look for a uniform, dark blue color. Green or reddish colored blueberries will not ripen after they are picked. The berries should be firm and plump. A powdery or frosty look to the surface also indicates freshness and ripeness
If you pick the raspberries yourself be sure to use shallow containers as they are very fragile. Ripe raspberries will easily come off the plant. Be careful to handle them gently and refrigerate as soon as possible. Ripe raspberries will a firm shape and not look partially deflated. For store bought raspberries be careful to choose ones that are free of any mold.
Like raspberries, blackberries should look plump and firm. They tend to be less fragile than raspberries because their cores stay intact when picked, but should still be stored in shallow containers. They should have a bright black color. Again, like raspberries, be sure to purchase ones that are mold free.
When picking strawberries yourself look for ones that are completely red with no white near the stems. The berries will grow under the leaves of the plants so carefully pinch or pull the berry’s stem from the plant. Strawberries need to be stored in a refrigerator as soon as possible. Be sure to leave the stem and cap on the strawberries until you are ready to use them. Store then in shallow containers so that they do not get crushed under their own weight. Ripe strawberries have a strong strawberry smell and will be completely bright red. When purchasing strawberries buy ones that still have the cap and stem attached. Once these are removed the berries will spoil rapidly.