Right now is the time to get your hands on some berries—the sweet and nutritious treat of summer. Flavor-packed powerhouses, berries of a smaller stature (think strawberries, not eggplant) are the perfect size for cooking, baking, and snacking. Here, we'll give you the rundown of the season's best berries, where and when you'll find them, plus good uses and fun facts.
Whether you incorporate blueberries in a pie, a breakfast bread, or simply eat them straight from the bush, these small, sweet, and sour delights are the perfect addition to any summer snack or meal.
There are two varieties of blueberries: wild versions are known as "lowbush" blueberries, as they grow close to the ground, while cultivated versions are known as "highbush" blueberries, as the plants grow on taller plants. Both versions are edible—and tasty. Lowbush blueberries are typically grown in New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, and Oregon. Highbush blueberries usually grow in California.
Peak blueberry season runs from June to August. While they’re available year-round, you'll find they have a punch of sweetness when in season.
Blend blueberries into smoothies, use them to top your oatmeal, or add them to anything that could use a touch of tang.
One blueberry bush can produce 6,000 berries each year.
Pump up the volume—strawberries get the season started right! The first fruit to ripen in the spring, pack strawberries into a cool and refreshing welcome-summer dish.
The vast majority of strawberries produced in the United States—about 90%—are grown in California. About 8% are grown in New York, with the other 2% coming from Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, and New York.
Strawberry harvest season generally spans from mid-March to early June.
strawberry oatmeal bars. As a snack, strawberries can also lend flavor to many recipes, including these
Strawberries are actually a member of the rose family.
Tangy, tart, and loaded with fiber, raspberries are a favorite for sweets lovers and health nuts alike.
Pro tip: Only rinse the raspberries you'll eat immediately, as rinsing the entire container and letting them sit can cause them to mold quickly.
Most raspberries grow on the West Coast, in Oregon, Washington, and California.
In most areas, raspberries are in season from July to September.
The tiny hairs on raspberries are called "styles."
These tart-and-sweet treats can be used in the same way as blueberries—they're an ideal base for syrups, and they're delicious in baked goods. It's fine to munch on a handful of fresh huckleberries, but many prefer these zingers blended with something sugary.
The largest producers of huckleberries in the United States are Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
Huckleberry season runs from June to August.
Huckleberries were first known as hurtleberries. The name evolved into its modern form in the 1600s.
These juicy fruits have a subtle tang that makes them great for drinks and desserts. Reminiscent of blackberries, raspberries, dewberries, and loganberries, the unique flavor of boysenberries can seem familiar, yet unexpected.
Boysenberries grow on the West Coast, mainly in California and Oregon.
Boysenberry season starts in July and ends in August.
Robert Boysen invented boysenberries in California during the Great Depression.
How to Use Seasonal Berries
Whether you stumble upon plump strawberries in spring or luscious blackberries in summer, berries are brimming with opportunities. Here are five ways to make the most of the season's treasure.
Preserving the essence of seasonal berries through homemade jams is an excellent way to enjoy their flavors throughout the year. You can make jam with a single type of berry or a delightful blend of varieties. Here’s how:
- Choose your favorite berries.
- Wash them.
- Boil them with sugar, lemon juice, and a bit of water until they reach a thick, spreadable consistency.
- Fill sterilized jars with the jam, seal them tightly, and store them in a cool, dark place.
Spread this 20-minute berry jam goodness on toast, pancakes, or scones for a burst of summer during any season.
With their vibrant colors and natural sweetness, berries make for beautiful and delectable garnishes.
Sprinkle a handful of berries over yogurt, salads, or breakfast cereal to add an enticing touch. The bright red strawberries or deep purple blueberries will instantly elevate any dish.
Their natural sweetness complements savory flavors and adds a cool twist to your culinary creations.
The next time you prepare a berry fruit salad or a dessert platter, remember to garnish it with a generous sprinkle of seasonal berries.
When it comes to smoothies, berries are a true game-changer. They bring a burst of freshness, natural sweetness, and color to your morning or for a power protein post-workout beverage.
Blend a handful of your preferred seasonal berries with a banana, a splash of yogurt or milk, and a few ice cubes for a quick and nutritious smoothie.
For an extra health boost, you can experiment with different combinations and add-ons like spinach, almond butter, or chia seeds. Enjoy the velvety texture and the explosion of flavors as you sip on your berry-infused masterpiece.
Berries are a match made in heaven with pastries. Their sweet-tart taste and juiciness complement flaky pie crusts, buttery tarts, or creamy strawberry cheesecakes.
Bake a classic strawberry shortcake, whip up a rustic blueberry galette, or fill your pastries with a berry compote.
Whether you opt for strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries, incorporating seasonal berries into your baked goods will take them to the next level.
The options are endless, and the results are always scrumptious.
Quench your thirst and infuse your water with berries to make a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.
Place a handful of berries in a pitcher filled with water. Let the flavors infuse for a few hours in the refrigerator, and you'll have a refreshing and flavorful drink.
You can experiment by adding citrus slices, herbs like mint or basil, or even cucumber for a spa-like experience.
The Best Ways to Store Berries
Berries are a true delight, but they can be quite delicate and prone to spoilage if not stored correctly. To ensure your berries stay fresh and delicious for as long as possible, it's essential to follow a few key storage tips. Here are our favorites.
Wash Them Well
Before storing berries, it's crucial to thoroughly wash them to remove any dirt, pesticides, or other residue.
However, improperly washing them can lead to quicker spoilage. So, to give your berries a proper wash, follow these steps:
- Mix three cups of water and one cup of white vinegar in a bowl.
- Put your berries in the bowl and carefully rinse them without bruising or damaging them.
- Let the berries soak for about ten minutes.
- Drain berries and quickly rinse them under running water.
- Pat them completely dry.
For delicate berries like raspberries or blackberries, consider using a colander or a fine-mesh sieve to prevent them from falling apart. By washing them thoroughly, you’ll remove any impurities and enhance your fruit’s shelf life.
Don't Overcrowd Them in One Container
Berries are prone to bruising and can rot quickly if they’re overcrowded in a container. Storing them in a single layer is best to allow air circulation and minimize pressure on the fruits.
Here's how to store them after washing them:
- Line a container or tray with a piece of paper towel.
- Arrange the berries in a single layer, ensuring they aren’t touching or overlapping.
- If you have many berries, divide them into multiple containers or trays to prevent overcrowding.
- Place another paper towel on top of the berries and store it in your fridge.
Freeze Them for Later
If you have more berries than you can eat before they spoil, freezing is an excellent option to preserve them for the future.
Freezing extends their shelf life and allows you to enjoy the taste of summer, even during the colder months. Follow these steps to freeze your berries:
- Wash the berries following the washing technique above and ensure they’re dry.
- Spread the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let them freeze individually for a few hours.
- Transfer the frozen berries to a freezer-safe bag or an airtight container.
- Label the container with the date and type of berries to identify them easily.
And don’t worry; frozen berries can preserve more nutrients than other ways of preservation. Follow all the steps above, keep your freezer at 0° F, and eat them within the suggested time frame.
Ready for a Berry-licious Summer?
To make the most out of the best berries of the season, grab just the right amount you can eat in a few days or stock up for year-round berry goodness. You can indulge in your favorite berry flavors whenever you please by nailing the art of proper storage techniques and methods, including making jams, cocktails, or compote. Don't miss out on the season's bounty—get savvy with storage and preservation and enjoy those delicious berries all year!