Berries

Berry_blueberry

A small, round, dark blue skinned berry native to North America. They are grown mostly in Northern United States and Canada. Some can be found grown in Northern Europe and Australia. There are many varieties of blueberries that differ slightly in size and taste. They are grown mostly on low bushes but some of the blueberry bushes grow to be 6 to 7 feet tall. The berries are dark blue in color and have a smooth outer skin that has a very thin, silver waxy coating that is called bloom. They have a sweet taste and contain soft seeds that do not need to be removed before eating the berries. Blueberries are commercially cultivated to satisfy demand but the best blueberries are the wild berries you pick yourself. Cultivated blueberries are 2 to 3 times larger than wild blueberries but are not as flavorful. They are in season from late spring to early fall.

How to use: The berries can be eaten raw, but are also added to fruit salads, pancakes, waffles, muffins, cakes, breads, pies, ice cream, and yogurt or cooked in various desserts. They are also cooked up to make thick sweet toppings for desserts, such as crêpes and cheesecake. Blueberries can also be cooked with sugar syrup to produce jams and jellies.

At their best: Fresh blueberries are most readily available starting in mid April and are available into late September or October. The first of the blueberries begin in the southern states and availability moves north as the weather warms through the season.

How to buy: Look for berries that have the silvery bloom coating, are plump and uniform in size, and are not shriveled. If the blueberries do not have the bloom coating, it is an indication that they are not fresh or that they have been washed. Washed berries will not keep as long as unwashed berries. The blueberries should be deep-purple blue to almost a bluish black color. If they have a reddish color to them, they are not ripe yet, but can still be used if they are going to be cooked. Check the bottom of the blueberry container for mold and look for blue stains from the berries. Berries should be firm, dry, and move freely in the container. The blue stains may be from crushed or overripe berries.

When buying frozen berries, be sure they are separated and loose in the bag. If they are frozen into a clump, it is a sign that they have at least partially thawed and then been refrozen.

Storage: Store unwashed blueberries in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days. Be sure to remove any damaged or moldy berries so that they do not contaminate the others. Blueberries can be frozen or canned for storage. Do not wash fresh or frozen blueberries until ready to use.

Black currant = cassis

Blackcurrant These are too tart to eat out of hand, but they're often used to make syrups, preserves, and the liqueur cassis. Frozen are a good substitute for fresh.

blackberry = bramble

Blackberries These would be excellent berries were it not for their rather large seeds. They're still great for eating out of hand, but cooks often strain out the seeds when making pies and preserves. Select berries that are free of mold, and as black as possible. They arrive in markets in the summer.

Blueberry

Blueberries Blueberries are small and sturdy, so they're perfect for tossing into cakes, muffins, cereal bowls, and fruit salads. Like other berries, they also make good preserves and tarts. Select firm, dark berries that have a whitish bloom on them. You can find fresh blueberries in the summer, but frozen blueberries are available year-round and work well in many recipes. They're very perishable, so keep them refrigerated and use them as soon as possible. You can also buy blueberries frozen, dried, or canned. Frozen berries get a little mushy after they're defrosted, but they'll work well in many recipes.

Boysenberry

Boysenberries A boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry, a raspberry, and a loganberry. It's more fragile than a blackberry, but it also lacks the blackberry's conspicuous seeds. Select boysenberries that are dark in color and free of mold.

Cape gooseberry = Chinese lantern = physalis = golden gooseberry = alkekengi = strawberry tomato = ground cherry = husk tomato = golden berry = golden husk = poha

Berry_capegooseberry Like its relative the tomatillo, the Cape gooseberry is covered with a papery husk. The fruit inside looks a bit like a yellow cherry, and tastes like a sweet tomato. You can eat Cape gooseberries whole, minus the husk, or use them to make very tasty preserves. They're hard to find in the United States; your best bet is a specialty produce market in the spring.

Cranberry

Cranberries These tart berries are traditionally used to makes sauces and garnishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It's best to buy them at their peak in October and November, and freeze any that you don't use right away.

Cultivated Blueberries

Cultivated blueberries are grown to satisfy the demand for blueberries and are the type that are generally available in food stores. They are 2 to 3 times larger than wild blueberries but do not have as an intense flavor. There are two types, which are highbrush and rabbiteye. The shrubs for the cultivated blueberries can grow to be more than 10 feet tall if not cut back. Cultivated blueberries are deep blue in color and have the same white bloom as the wild blueberries.

Currant

Blackcurrant These berries are too tart for most people to eat out of hand, but they make terrific preserves and garnishes. They come in three colors: red, white, and black. If color's not important, you can use them interchangeably in most recipes, though red and white currants aren't as tart as black. Don't confuse these berries with the dried fruit of the same name that looks like a small raisin. You can sometimes find fresh currants in specialty produce markets in the summer. If not, frozen currants are a good substitute.

Dewberry

These are similar to blackberries, only they're smaller.

Elderberry

These are too tart for most people to eat out of hand, but they make terrific preserves and wine.

frais des bois = wild strawberry = wood strawberry

Fraisdesbois These small, wild strawberries are either white or red, and have a very intense flavor.

Golden raspberry

Goldenraspberries This is a blonder version of the red raspberry.

Gooseberry

Berry_gooseberries These large, tart berries are in season only in June and July, but canned gooseberries work well in pies and fools. American gooseberries are round and about 1/2 inch in diameter, while European gooseberries are oblong, and about twice the size of American gooseberries. They're very acidic, and so they're great with roasted meats, like goose. The freshest gooseberries are covered with fuzz

Grapes

Redmuscatgrapes Many varieties of grapes are turned into wine, vinegar, jelly, and raisins, but table grapes are for eating out of hand. They're classified by their color--red, green, and blue--and by whether they have seeds or not. Seedless varieties are popular because they're easy to eat, but often the seeded varieties offer more flavor and better value.

Hucleberry

Huckleberries These are similar to blueberries, and they're great for making preserves and syrups. Some specialty markets carry them in the summer.

Jaboticaba

These resemble large, dark purple grapes, and they're very popular in Brazil. You can eat them like grapes, though you might want to first remove the seeds and thick skin. You can also make delicious jams, jellies, and wines from them.

keriberry

Kerriberries

Lingonberry

Lingonberries These tart relatives of the cranberry grow only in cold climates.

Loganberry

Loganberries These are like blackberries, only they're dark red when ripe and more acidic. They're especially good in pies and preserves.

Wild blueberries

A lowbush variety of blueberries that grows on a bushlike shrub that generally ranges from 1 to 3 feet in height. The berries grow in bunches of 3 or 4 and are quite small in comparison to the cultivated varieties, but the wild blueberries are more flavorful. They are deep-purple blue to almost a bluish black color with a light silvery coating called "bloom," which is a sign of freshness. It is much harder to find wild blueberries and they are usually only sold in local markets when they are in season. They are grown in Canada and throughout the United States wherever there is acidic soil and sufficient moisture, and when the climate is cool.