We sure know how to pick ‘em. Do you? We’re talking about berries, of course, because the beginning of summer means the beginning of months of delicious, sun-soaked, and compulsively snackable fruits. Take it one month at a time as we show you the whens and hows of how to pick out the best berries of the bunch.
The lovely month of May: boysenberries, blackberries, and more
Some say summer starts with Memorial Day, some say it starts with the solstice. We say it starts with May—and as luck would have it, that’s when the first berries start coming in. The truth is that you should wait a little bit, though: most berries start peaking in flavor a little later. If you’re desperate for a taste of summer, though, go with boysenberries and blackberries. When you’re picking, whether it’s from a bramble or your local grocer, look for shine: as blackberries and boysenberries age, they’ll lose their glimmer.
June is busting out all over with strawberries
Mid-June is when things really heat up. The above-mentioned bramble berries will get even juicier and tastier, and it also means the arrival of one of the summer’s most-awaited delicacies: strawberries. Strawberry season is short ‘n’ sweet—you’ve got until mid-July to really get them at their best. If you’re buying in the market, look for the reddest, heaviest fruit you can: strawberries won’t ripen any more off the vine, so what you see is what you get. A similar logic applies to u-pick-em situations, you just usually have more options in the hedgerow.
July’s forthcoming faves
July is when everything’s on a roll: you’ll be able to enjoy the aforementioned strawberries, blackberries, and boysenberries, but now’s a great time to pick up something you’re used to seeing year-round: raspberries. It’s easy to find greenhouse and sub-Equatorial raspberries in markets any time of year, but late summer is their natural season. We normally encourage people to look beyond fruit’s good looks, but in this case: you can judge a book by its cover. Look for raspberries that are brightly colored, firm, and shapely—soft raspberries tend to be mushy in flavor as well as texture. (They also spoil quickly.)
August ends strong with blueberries
Late summer and early fall are when all the good stuff comes in. Think of it as nature’s last hurrah. We think a great way to cap off the end of the season is a slice of blueberry pie. Now, blueberries are perfectly tasty from mid-June onwards, but they’re considerably longer-lived in summer than other fruits—we also think that late crops taste just as good as peak season picks. When you’re buying, look for smooth fruit and check for cartons without juice stains. You don’t want berries that are damaged, leaking, or just thin-skinned. They’ll spoil really quickly and they just won’t have the same flavor as unblemished blues.
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