Easy Living

Keeping summer treats their freshest

Easy Living

Tips on how to pick summer's harvest of berries and how to store them to keep them fresh and flavourful.

George Gershwin must have had this season’s fruit in mind when he wrote, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” There are few things more satisfying than venturing out on a summer’s day to pick raspberries right off the cane, still warm from the sun when they reach your mouth.

Those without gardens harvest summer berries at the u-pick. Head to a roadside stand, or visit the nearest farmers’ market. For tips on how to choose the best of the crop and how to keep it fresh and flavourful, check out the following information. Summer eating couldn’t be easier.

Red Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus)

What to look for:
Raspberries should be fragrant, plump, and covered with fine downy fuzz. Avoid berries that have been crushed, and check for mold. Eat as soon as possible!

How to store:
Sources suggest that raspberries should not be washed because it damages the texture and flavour. Merely pick off any leaves or stems.

How long to store:
Up to two days maximum

Availability:
Mid-July to mid-September

did you know:
Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, and dietary fibre. They are the tastiest member of the rose family.

Blueberries (Vaccinium Corymbosum)

What to look for:
Choose plump firm blueberries. The blue dusty coating is a natural protective layer.

How to store:
Covered, in the fridge. To avoid mushiness, wash berries just before you eat them.

How long to store:
Up to 10 days

Availability:
July and August

Did you know:
Blueberries store a lot of nutrients in a small blue package. They’re high in fibre, antioxidants, and potassium.

Sweet Cherry (Varieties of Prumus)

What to look for:
Cherries should be shiny, dark, firm, plump, and still attached to their stems.

How to store:
Store unwashed in the refrigerator. Wash just before serving.

How long to store:
Up to a week, but watch carefully for spoilage

Availability:
Late June to late August

did you know:
Cherries are a good source of vitamins A and C. They are rich in antioxidants and are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Peaches (Prunus Persica)

What to look for:
Choose fruit that is a rich yellow with a slight rosy blush. Flesh should be firm but not hard. Avoid peaches with a green tint–they won’t ripen.

How to store:
Ripen on the kitchen counter by placing unripe peaches in a loosely closed paper bag. Check every day–they go from ripe to rotten very quickly. To refrigerate, place ripe peaches in a paper bag.

How long to store:
When ripe, eat or use immediately. Ripe peaches will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Discard when flesh is mushy or bruised.

Availability:
Mid-June to September

Did you know:
A good source of potassium, folate, and vitamin A. To peel, dip quickly in boiling water (10 to 30 seconds); then plunge into a bowl of ice water. Slip skins off using a paring knife or by hand.

Strawberries (Varieties of Fragaria)

What to look for:
Bright red, firm, and fragrant. Ask if you can taste one!

How to store:
Arrange unwashed berries in one layer, and place in the refrigerator. Wash immediately before eating. Buy only as many as you think you can eat right away.

How long to store:
Very perishable–24 hours. Discard moldy berries.

Availability:
June, although everbearing strawberries can be harvested all summer. Strawberries are high in B vitamins, vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants.

Did you know:
Since strawberries become waterlogged easily, use a damp paper towel and gently wipe off any dirt.

Pesticide Control

Fresh summer cherries, strawberries, and peaches are just a few of nature’s sweet treats. To help nature keep the bugs away, many fruit producers use pesticides. Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a report that lists the pesticide load of common fruits and vegetables.

Alas, peaches top the list of produce with the highest dusting, and many of our beloved berries are included in their “Dirty Dozen.” The best way to avoid unhealthy chemicals is to choose organic produce whenever possible. To check out A Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, go to ewg.org.

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