Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries

HYG-5511
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/09/2021
Revised 2021: Melinda Hill, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Revised 2009: Julie Kennel Shertzer, Program Specialist, Human Nutrition
Original reviewers: Lydia C. Medeiros, PhD, RD, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension and Richard C. Funt, Specialist, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension
Original author: Barbara H. Drake, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

One of the highlights of summer is enjoying the bounty of luscious Ohio berries. July is the peak month for blackberries and raspberries. Blueberries are in season from mid-July through mid-September. 

For information on berry varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.

Selection

All Berries

  • The berries should be firm, plump, and bright in color, but sweetness varies by variety. A dull appearance or soft, juicy texture means the fruit is old. 
    Quart containers brimming with fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

    Figure 1. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries are delicious summer fruits. Photo: LexWeb, Pixabay

  • Look for stains on containers, which indicate crushed or bruised fruit. The berries should be free of dirt, mold, or decay.

Blueberries

  • Blueberries should be plump and firm with a dark blue color and a waxy, silvery “bloom.”

Raspberries

  • Raspberries may be red, black, yellow, or purple. The red raspberry is the first to ripen, followed by black, purple, and yellow. Some varieties produce two crops a year and are called everbearing or fall-bearing.
  • Ripe raspberries should be large, bright, shiny, uniform in color and ripeness, attractive, firm, and of good quality. Taste varies from tart to sweet depending on the variety and maturity.

Blackberries

  • Upon ripening, blackberries become dull black in color and begin to soften and sweeten.
  • Fruit is medium to large sized. Each drupelet should be well filled, creating a berry that is solid, plump, and juicy.

Yield

Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.

  • 1 pint = 4–5 servings of fresh uncooked fruit
  • 1 quart blueberries = 1½–2 pounds
  • 1 quart raspberries/blackberries = 1¼–1½ pounds
  • 1 flat of blueberries (12 pints) = approximately 12 pounds

Nutrition

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 cups of fruits per day as part of a healthy diet. All three types of berries are good sources of vitamin C and also contain fiber, folate, and vitamin K. One of the most important health benefits of berries stems from their high level of phytochemicals, which are non-nutrient components that scientists believe may help reduce the risk of chronic disease. Berries are rich in phenolic compounds and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help fight cancer.

Per 1 cup of unsweetened berries
  Raspberries Blackberries Blueberries
Calories 64 62 84
Vitamin C 32 mg 
(54% daily need)
30 mg
(50% daily need)
14 mg
(24% daily need)
Fiber 8 g 8 g 4 g


Storage

  • Handle fruit gently to avoid bruising. Bruising shortens the shelf life of fruit and contributes to low quality. 
    A close up of a mix of blackberries, red raspberries, and blueberries.

    Figure 2. A close up of a mix of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Photo: Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay

  • Sort carefully and place berries loosely in a shallow container to allow air circulation and to prevent the berries on top from crushing those underneath. 
  • Berries are highly perishable. Store them immediately in the refrigerator.
  • Do not wash berries before refrigerating.
  • Store covered containers of berries in a cool, moist area of the refrigerator, such as in the hydrator (fruit and vegetable keeper), to help extend the usable life of the fruit. Blackberries and raspberries can be stored one to two days in the refrigerator; blueberries can be stored three to five days in the refrigerator.
  • To prepare, rinse berries gently in cold water, lift out of water, and drain. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the fruit. 
  • Never soak berries in water.
  • Discard berries that are too soft or decayed.

Serving Ideas

  • Serve berries fresh or in your favorite recipe.
  • Puree raspberries, sieve out seeds, and use as a melba sauce over peaches, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • Add fresh berries and a few nuts to hot or cold cereals.
  • Top fresh berries with plain nonfat yogurt and granola for a delicious breakfast, snack, or dessert.
  • Bake berries into muffins or cobblers.
  • To reduce fat in your diet, choose one-crust berry pie recipes over those with two crusts.
  • Combine raspberries into a fresh lettuce salad. Top with a vinaigrette dressing.
  • A few berries go a long way when combined with other fruits in a salad or compote.

Blueberry Oat Scones

Time: Approximately 1 hour
Yield: 16 scones

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups oat bran 
  • 1½ cups flour 
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup trans-fat free margarine or butter
  • 2 eggs or 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon imitation rum extract
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Lightly grease one baking sheet.
  3. Mix oat bran, flour, brown sugar, and baking soda.
  4. Cut in margarine or butter.
  5. Beat eggs and beat in honey in a separate bowl.
  6. Add buttermilk and extracts to egg mixture.
  7. Pour into oat bran mixture and stir only until moistened.
  8. Stir in blueberries.
  9. Use tablespoon to drop mix onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake in 400 F oven 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

For more information on preserving berries, go to ohioline.osu.edu, or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

FoodData Central. n.d. U.S. Department of Agriculture (website), accessed June 29, 2021. fdc.nal.usda.gov.

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

Olson, Richard, Kellie Cassavale, Colette Rihane, Eve Essery Stoody, Patricia Britten, Jill Reedy, Elizabeth Rahavi, Janet de Jesus, Katrina Piercy, Amber Mosher, Stephenie Fu, Jessica Larson, and Anne Brown Rodgers. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 Eighth Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015–2020. PDF. health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf.