There's nothing quite like a juicy berry plucked directly from the vine. Some of the summer's best offerings include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, and blueberries. Even if you're not blessed with berry flora outside your door, you can still find berries in their prime if you know what to look for.
While some types of berries are available year-round, they are often shipped from other parts of the country or even from different areas around the globe. That makes it difficult to know how long they've been in transport. In contrast, when berries are in season locally, they often haven't been in storage for long. Regardless of the distance traveled, those two containers can look almost identical. Since freshness is key When focusing on how to pick out the best berries, use your senses to hunt down the best of the best. Whether your search starts at a fruit stand or in the grocery store's produce department, one thing is sure: Those clamshell containers can hide aging or rotting fruit. Instead of simply trusting the expiration date, give the carton a shake. Both the sound and the appearance will provide you with a lot of information about the quality of what's inside.
What To Listen For When Shaking A Berry Carton
When shopping for berries, evaluate their freshness by moving them around inside the container. Berries that are ripe for picking are still slightly firm. Once they become soft, they invite mold and rot. Listen carefully as you shift the berries around the carton. Fresh berries will rattle around since they don't stick to each other or the container. They shouldn't slide across the surface but tumble as they move. You should hear the fruit firmly hitting the sides of the container as you rotate it, almost as if it were full of hard candies. Sometimes, the container is too full to allow the berries to move around. This is a bad sign because berries shouldn't be stored tightly packed together.
Considering the cost of fresh berries, put some extra effort into making a quality selection so you don't end up with spoiled fruit. Pay special attention when purchasing a large container, like the half-flats sold at box stores. It's a bummer to pick up fruit thinking you'll be making a quick and easy jam, only to find out many of the berries need to be tossed out.
What To Watch For When Shaking A Berry Carton
Visually inspect your produce while you're still at the store. While you can only see a portion of the berries packed in a container, you'll get a good idea of the freshness from the color and texture of the fruit. Tilt the container from side to side, then flip it over and look along the sides of the container. The fruit should have consistent, rich coloring. Imagine choosing a berry fresh off the vine and using the same standards in the store. Inspect the fruit for any fuzzy white or green mold spots; even one rotten berry can quickly spoil the rest of the lot. The berries should also have a plump appearance; they are likely past their prime if they look shriveled or appear to have lost their firm texture.
In addition, watch for any juices inside the container. If the pad at the bottom is soaked with color or the berries bleed on the sides of the carton, your fruit likely isn't fresh. Also, make a different selection if any berries stick to the bottom when you turn the container over. Finally, watch to ensure the berries move freely without sticking together. Although it only takes a few seconds, using your senses to inspect your berries as you give the carton a shake will significantly increase your chances of finding the optimal fruit so you can enjoy them fresh or in your favorite berry recipes.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.