How to choose, store and use berries

  • Tue Jul 13th, 2010 11:40am
  • Life

By Susan M. Selasky Detroit Free Press

Just like summer, the berry and cherry seasons are far too short.

Here’s how to choose and store berries and cherries.

Cherries

Choose firm, ripe and blemish-free cherries.

Store: Place in a colander in the refrigerator. Cherries without the stem will keep four to five days, and with the stem about a week. Do not wash until ready to use.

Blackberries and raspberries

Pick ripe and plump berries that are bright in color and look dry.

Store: Refrigerate them uncovered, in a single layer, for just a few days. Do not rinse until ready to use.

Blueberries

Pick plump blueberries. If they have a little bit of red, which means they’re slightly under-ripe, it’s OK. The berries will continue to ripen and turn blue.

Store: Keep unwashed, loosely covered in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Rinse and pat dry before using.

Cherry berry cobbler

2cups pitted sweet cherries, rinsed

1cup blackberries

1cup blueberries

1cup raspberries

3tablespoons cornstarch

5tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1cup all-purpose flour

2teaspoons baking powder

1/4teaspoon salt

5tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2cup plus 1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk

Light whipped topping or vanilla ice cream for serving, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pit the cherries in a large bowl. Lightly rinse all the berries. Add them to the cherries. Sprinkle the fruit with the cornstarch, 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon zest.

Pour the mixture into a 9-by-12-inch oval baking dish.

Mix the flour with 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/2 cup of the milk to make a very soft dough.

Drop the dough by spoonfuls on top of the berry mixture. Dampen your hands with some remaining milk, and spread out the dough to cover most of the fruit. Brush the top of the dough with the rest of the milk. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake the cobbler for about 35 minutes, or until it is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. Serve warm with whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

Makes 8 1/2-cup servings. Per serving: 222 calories (32 percent from fat), 8 grams fat (5 grams sat. fat), 37 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 201 mg sodium, 20 mg cholesterol, 4 grams fiber.

Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

Adapted from www.bonappetit.com.

Blueberry-lemon cornmeal cake

11/3cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

1/4cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1teaspoon baking powder

1/4teaspoon baking soda

1/4teaspoon salt

6tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1cup sugar

1teaspoon grated lemon zest

2large eggs at room temperature

1tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2cup low-fat buttermilk

TOPPING

1cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and well dried

1tablespoon sugar

1tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment cut in a circle to fit the pan, lightly flour the sides, and tap out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended. In a mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest on medium high until well blended and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until just blended. Add the lemon juice with the second egg (the batter will appear curdled; don’t worry). Fold in half the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping.

In a small bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar and flour. Using a fork, mix the ingredients, lightly crushing the blueberries and evenly coating them with the flour and sugar. After the cake has baked for 15 minutes, slide the oven rack out and quickly scatter the blueberries evenly over the top of the cake (discard any flour and sugar that doesn’t adhere to the berries). Continue baking until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, another 23 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Using a dry dishtowel to protect your hands, lay a rack on top of the cake pan and, holding onto both rack and pan, invert the cake. Lift the pan from the cake. Peel away the parchment. Lay a flat serving plate on the bottom of the cake and flip the cake one more time so that the blueberries are on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 10 servings. Per serving:240 calories (30 percent from fat), 8 grams fat (5 grams sat. fat), 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 160 mg sodium, 60 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber. Tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

Fine Cooking, September 2006 issue