It is berry picking season!
From June through October some form of berry is available in this area. Strawberries start at the end of June and then come blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Click here to find out what produce is available when in Massachusetts.
In addition to tasting delicious, berries are great sources of vitamins A, C, E and folic acid. Berries also contain minerals such as potassium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Because they contain antioxidants, berries can help us stay healthy by improving our bodies’ ability to fight infection and disease.
To get the best taste from berries, serve them at room temperature. Wait until you are about to serve them before washing them, otherwise they will get mushy. Berries will absorb the water that they are washed in.
How do you get the freshest berries? Pick your own! This website can help you find a farm to go pick your own berries. Here is another website to provide some variety.
There are plenty of ways to eat berries besides in the typical fruit salad or a pastry. Below are three recipes that use fresh berries in fun and creative ways. Happy berrying!
“Royal Blueberry” Gazpacho with Lemon and Mint
This twist on gazpacho is an unexpected first course, a new idea for brunch, or a great summer dessert. It is interesting enough just topped with grated lemon zest and snippets of fresh mint, or it can be topped with flake salt or finely diced honeydew and cantaloupe for drama and texture. Diced strawberries and a dollop of Greek yogurt would also be nice.
1 pound dark purple seedless grapes
12 ounces fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white grape juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Small fresh mint leaves (optional)
1. Remove stems from fruit. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place fruit in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add grape juice and honey; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Place blueberry mixture in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Strain; discard solids. Chill 2 hours.
2. Stir in rind, juice, and salt. Ladle about 1/2 cup into each of 5 chilled bowls; garnish with mint and additional lemon rind, if desired.
Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 142 Protein 1.3g Carbohydrate 37.2g Fiber 2.7g
Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
12 servings (serving size: 6 chips and about 3 tablespoons avocado mixture)
Make the chips in advance, cool completely, and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 (6-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over oil-coated sides of tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges; arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp.
3. Combine avocado and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine. Serve with chips.
Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 138 Protein 2.8g Carbohydrate 17.3 g Fiber 3.6g
6 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)
Serve this unusual side dish on a bed of greens or with pork tenderloin flavored with balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and garlic.
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons raspberry preserves
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 1/2 cups (1-inch) sliced asparagus (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted
Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in rind.
Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain. Combine preserves mixture, asparagus, and raspberries in a bowl; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with pecans.
Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 65 Protein 2.3g Carbohydrate 10.8g Fiber 3.9g
All three recipes are from Cooking Light. For more berry recipes go to: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/berry-recipes/view-all
Written by Inmay MacNeil MS, RD, LDN