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Very Berry Ideas for Summer Treats

Summer is the time for fresh berries - take advantage of this bounty to enjoy a range of treats

Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all bursting forth at farmers' markets, fruit stands, and in the grocery stores. It's simply hard to pass up all these delicious treats. Even though they're available frozen or canned or packaged throughout the year, the fresh ones are almost always best.

Think of all the delicious drinks, desserts, and snacks that can be made from fresh berries. There are smoothies and ice cream, of course. Freeze them and serve them up as a really cold bite.

Tea infusion is another way to enjoy the juice. Make tea as usual. Then juice the berries in a blender and strain out the seeds. Mix with the tea, add sugar, a little lemon, and you have a new sensation! Fruit juice works well or you can simply slice up the fruit and allow it to "steep" with the tea, then strain.

Berries are perfect for breakfast added to cereal. For afternoons and after-dinner, keep shortcake and pound cake on hand and just add a little whipped cream or create alternating cake, fruit, and pudding layers.

Buying berries:
-Inspect the container for signs of mushy berries, liquid in the bottom, and mold.
-Blackberries and raspberries are especially fragile.
-Blueberries should have a "bloom" on the skin, which looks like a powder coating.

Storing berries:
-Do not wash until ready to use. Rinsing before storing speeds up the decaying process.
-Inspect and discard any with mold or soft spots.
-If possible, keep separated on a tray and they will stay fresh longer.
-Use within a few days. (Raspberries and blackberries should be used within a day or two.)

-Place on a cookie sheet and freeze individually.
-Once frozen, they can be kept in plastic bags.
-Blueberries can be frozen up to one year; strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries should be used within 8-9 months.

-Berries are heavyweights, so be sure to mix into recipes that require thicker batters. Pancakes are a perfect blend, along with muffins and breads.
-Turnovers and tarts are a perfect way to enclose a blend of fruits. Use pre-made pastry dough or phyllo cups for individual servings.




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