Berry time: Summer’s coming

June 2009 Posted in Food & Drink

By Kathy Cook Hunter

Summer stretches out in front of us, and with it, a season’s worth of the berries for which our region is known. Strawberries, raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries (and similar varieties) and blueberries simply must be part of everyone’s diet, living in the Willamette Valley as we do. We are so fortunate to live here where we can enjoy them fresh.

When it comes to preserving berries, everyone agrees freezing is quick and easy. For me, I just lightly rinse my berries in a colander, drain and place in strong, reusable freezer bags. If you are more particular about the shape of your strawberries when they thaw, rinse them with cool water, pat dry and place in a single level on a cookie sheet. Put it in the freezer for an hour or so before transferring the berries to bags where they’ll hold their shape and not stick together. Follow the same procedure with raspberries, marions and boysens.

Blueberries are easiest of all – just rinse well in a colander to remove stems, leaves, etc., and put in freezer bags sized for your needs. When you’re ready to use frozen blueberries, they will come rolling out of the bag neatly, ready for use in many dishes, including salads, fruit compotes, pie, and on a bowl of cereal or oatmeal.

Blueberries, renowned for their high antioxidant content, are so important to our diet, but the other berries aren’t far behind. Get on the blueberry bandwagon and try making blueberry smoothies based on one of these recipes.

Berry Blue Smoothie
• 2 cups fresh or slightly thawed frozen blueberries
• 1 6-ounce container low-fat vanilla or other flavored yogurt
• 1 cup fruit juice, such as orange, pineapple or apple
• 1 tablespoon honey or sugar, more or less to taste

In the container of an electric blender, place blueberries, yogurt, juice and honey; whirl until smooth. Serve immediately. Yield: two or three portions. (From the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council)

Low-cal Blueberry Smoothie
• ¾ cup Diet Ocean Spray Juice Drink, any flavor
• ¾ cup slightly thawed frozen blueberries (or use any combination of frozen berries)
• 1 6-ounce container low-fat berry flavored yogurt, or vanilla-flavored low-fat plain yogurt (no sugar)
• ½ ripe banana, cut into slices

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for a few second on high speed or until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Makes two servings. (From Ocean Spray)

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