Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries…I love them all, especially when they are freshly picked and tasting like sunshine.
However, few things are more discouraging than spending money on fresh berries only to have them go bad before you use them up. Thank goodness Cooks Illustrated magazine published a great cleaning method that keeps the fruit around longer.
Wash the berries in a bowl with three parts water and one part white vinegar. Then drain and rinse. (For other fruits and vegetables, fill a spay bottle with the water-vinegar solution, give them a spritz, and then rinse.)
To dry, place more the sturdy ones like strawberries and blueberries into a salad spinner lined with three layers of paper towels. Then spin until dry. Delicate raspberries can be laid out onto paper towel-lined counter or baking sheet and allowed to dry. (A fan blowing on the berries will speed up the process.)
Once cleaned, place the berries in a container lined with paper towels and keep in the refrigerator. Leave the lid opened a bit to allow any excess moisture to escape.
The extra berries I purchase are headed straight for my freezer to enjoy the rest of the year. After the berries are cleaned and dried, I place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Then I pop the sheet into the freezer. Once they are completely frozen, I remove the berries from the sheet and place them into a zippered freezer bag.
Both fresh and frozen berries work well in so many recipes, from smoothies to pancakes. When using the frozen ones, most recipes will tell you if they need to be thawed out first. When in doubt, thaw the berries.