In the world of produce, not every fruit and vegetable is fortunate to have both beauty and brains. This year’s crop of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, however, are not only pretty to look at, but nutritionally smart and delicious too! Delivering a party of good flavors with every bite, berries beat out the competition when it comes to taste, versatility and vibrant colors. All berries are low in calories and fat, cholesterol free and high in fiber. What’s more, they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function at optimal levels.
For those with a sweet tooth, berries hit the jackpot and can be enjoyed right from the picking (after a quick rinse). They are delicious eaten plain or dressed up with a small dollop of whipped cream and sprinkling of nuts. And who can resist a berry cobbler filled with fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, topped with vanilla ice cream? Foothill Farmers’ Market/PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald shares her recipe for Spring Berry Cobbler below.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
The best berries are ones that are firm, ripe and brightly colored. Berries should be refrigerated unwashed, with a loose, single-layer cover. Strawberries and blueberries are most flavorful in the first five days, while blackberries and raspberries are good for nearly three days. Berries can be frozen for up to 12 months, but because they tend to lose their shape and juice when thawed, are best suited for smoothies or baking and sauces. DID YOU KNOW?
Raspberries contain only 50 calories per serving, boast more vitamin C than an orange, and are a rich source of flavonoids, which have proven to play a role in heart heath and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Blueberries are also a nutritional powerhouse and can improve nighttime vision, may help to reduce the risk of infection, improve motor skills and reverse short-term memory loss that comes with aging.
Blackberries have shown to have beneficial health effects in the fight against cancers of the GI tract, like colon cancer, and have the highest antioxidant content per serving than any food tested.
Last, but certainly not least, the strawberry and its 600 varieties are considered to be one of the world’s healthiest and most popular types of berries.
HOW TO PAIR WITH WINE
There’s nothing like fresh berries to bring out the fruitiness of a ruby Port or late harvest dessert wine. Try Fawnridge Winery’s Confluence Ruby Port or Bear River Winery’s Late Harvest Barbera slightly chilled, which lends a crispness that pairs especially well with ice cream.
— Julie Peterson
For details on where to buy Placer County farm-fresh produce, wine, meat and local products, visit placergrown.org.
Spring Berry Cobbler
Foothill Farmers’ Market/PlacerGROWN Chef Courtney McDonald shares her recipe