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Bountiful Berries

Authored by Hilary Gebauer, UMN Public Health and Nutrition

Summer is short in Minnesota – and so is berry season! So when you have the chance for fresh Minnesota grown berries be sure to take advantage.

We all know that berries taste great on their own or on top of cereal, ice cream or yogurt. But to really impress your friends try making a berry sauce. This beautiful sauce goes well on anything from ice cream to cheesecake to waffles. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries work particularly well.

Fresh Berry Sauce

In a blender or food processor puree 1 cup of berries, 1 tablespoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice. Strain through a fine sieve over a bowl to separate out the seeds, a flexible rubber spatula works well to press the sauce through the sieve. Don’t waste any of the precious sauce, keep pressing until you’re left with just a pile of seeds. The sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator in a covered container.

In addition to being delicious, berries are good for you too! The nutrient content varies by berry, but most contain vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium. They also contain phytochemicals (which may help prevent some disease) and antioxidants (which may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer).

Use care when you’re transporting, storing and washing your berries to avoid bruising and inadvertently making jam! If you’re going to eat or use them in the next few days, store ripe berries, unwashed and covered, in the refrigerator.

Although it’s tempting to eat all your fresh berries now, consider freezing them for a little taste of summer in the winter. To freeze berries, wash and spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze them for a few hours, until they’re solid, and then transfer them into freezer bags. Freezing them in a single layer first will prevent them from sticking together in the freezer bag.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can turn your berries into jellies or jams. You can learn more about canning and food preservation from the University of Minnesota Extension Service

(http://www.extension.umn.edu/foodsafety/components/foodpreservation.htm).