Use these tips for choosing, freezing, and using fresh berries for all your favorite recipes.

August 2006 • From Our Kitchen
Fresh Berry Cobbler, Fresh Peach Salsa, and Freezing Seasonal Berries.
| Credit: John O'Hagan / Styling Rose Nguyen / Food Styling Mary Allen Perry

Test Kitchen's Favorite Berry Recipes

Easy Summer Treat
Just the mention of cobbler during berry season is enough to make anyone's mouth water. Here we've updated the well-known dessert with the crunch of cornmeal and a hint of lemon. Frozen berries may be substituted for fresh; just increase the baking time by about 10 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.

Fresh Peach Salsa
Juicy peaches take a savory spin in this hot and spicy salsa, created by Associate Foods Editor Mary Allen Perry. She serves the chutney-like condiment with grilled pork, chicken, or fish and as a dip for tortilla chips and quesadillas. It even makes a great appetizer--simply pair it with goat cheese or cream cheese and crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Freezing Seasonal Berries
Take advantage of the luscious blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries available now. Buy extra, and freeze them for summer-fresh flavor year-round. Frozen berries make great additions to smoothies, pancakes, muffins, pies, and cobblers. The best part is it's a cinch to freeze berries; here's how.

  • Sort berries, discarding any mushy, under-ripe, or damaged ones. Gently wash in cool water. (Do not wash blueberries.) Pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Place berries in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan; freeze until firm.
  • Transfer berries to a labeled and dated zip-top plastic freezer bag, squeezing out excess air. Freeze up to nine months.
  • Add berries to your favorite recipes while still frozen. Briefly wash frozen blueberries with cool water just before using.

Choosing Berries
When selecting berries, choose those that are:

  • Bright and uniform in color. Blueberries should also have a whitish bloom on the skin.
  • Firm and plump.

Avoid berries that are mushy or show signs of bruising or mold. If choosing prepackaged berries, look for containers in which the berries move freely, as berries that are too tightly packed can become crushed and damaged.

Berry Storage
With the exception of blueberries, berries are highly perishable and should be used within one to two days of purchase. (Blueberries will last about a week in the refrigerator.) As soon as possible after purchase, sort berries, discarding mushy, moldy, or damaged ones. Refrigerate unwashed berries in their original container, or spread them out on a paper towel-lined plate and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Gently wash berries just before eating; pat dry with paper towels.