You can buy berries frozen year-round, but a recent multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to a frozen blend of organic berries might give you pause and motivate you to seek out fresh ones.
The Oregon company that produced the contaminated frozen berries has recalled them, noting that they contained pomegranate seeds from Turkey. Preliminary lab studies of two specimens suggest that the strain of the hepatitis virus in the outbreak is one found in the Middle East and North Africa and rarely in North or South America, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is also a reminder of why it pays to buy fresh, locally grown produce. In the case of berries, fresh ones are sweeter and have a better texture than the frozen ones which often defrost into a mushy mass. High in fiber, low in calories, rich in numerous vitamins and healthful compounds including (depending on the type) flavonoids and lutein, berries have numerous health benefits. Why not take advantage of these by filling your reusable grocery bag with some?
Fresh strawberries can keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Absolutely be sure to wash them carefully! While some recommend only washing them right before you eat them, others suggest using a diluted vinegar rinse and then drying them thoroughly with paper towels to keep them fresh longer.
Choose plump, fragrant ones and keep them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (and in the freezer for up to a year), if you can wait that long to eat them. Use glass or plastic containers as blueberries react with metal ones and become discolored.
Blackberries are relatives of the rose. To get the most of their antioxidants and vitamins, eat them within 24 hours after gathering or buying, lest they become moldy and mushy.
Small and round and with a taste similar to blueberries, huckleberries contain seeds (which makes them crunchy) and thicker skins. They are not grown commercially and are found wild or in farmer’s markets (or you can grow your own). Huckleberries reach their peak in August so you can still enjoy them into the later days of summer.
Photos from Thinkstock
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