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Feature

Redwing raspberry

The University of Minnesota introduced the hardy Redwing raspberry in 1986.

Enjoy the berry best of Minnesota

By Trina Barno

From eNews, June 26, 2008

Anyone who has ever tasted fresh-picked, mouth-watering Minnesota berries knows that they are one of the greatest rewards for enduring the long and bitter Minnesota winters.

Summertime berries are loaded with important nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Berries are extremely versatile foods that can be incorporated into any meal; used in juices, smoothies, teas, and other beverages; or eaten alone for a delicious grab-and-go snack. Strawberries You can begin looking for fresh, locally grown strawberries in Minnesota during the month of June. When choosing fresh strawberries, look for bright red berries that have the green end caps intact. One cup of strawberries contain 140 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin C. In addition, strawberries are a good source of folic acid, potassium, and fiber. Refrigerate your strawberries as soon as possible to maintain maximum freshness and nutrients. Clean fresh strawberries by rinsing them with cool water in a colander just before eating them, and cut off the end cap. Use fresh strawberries within three days of picking them. Blueberries Blueberries begin appearing in July in Minnesota, and they keep showing up into August. Blueberries are ripest when they are completely blue with no hints of red; have a waxy, silvery coating; and will easily come off their stems. They are packed with antioxidants, as well as dietary fiber, niacin, and vitamins A and C.

Did you know?

Since 1896, the University of Minnesota has conducted small fruit research at its North Central Research and Outreach Center at Grand Rapids. The U has introduced several varieties of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and currants, as well as two varieties of gooseberries. To learn more, see 150 Years of Hardy Plants: Small Fruits.

Blueberries will stay fresh for about seven days if refrigerated. Rinse in a colander just before eating. Raspberries Red raspberries ripen earliest in Minnesota, followed by black, purple, and yellow raspberries. Some farms offer both summer and fall crops. Raspberries are ripest when they are uniform in color and separate from their green end caps easily. Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, folate, iron, and potassium. Refrigerate raspberries in a shallow container because they are fragile and will bruise easily when crowded together. Rinse gently in a colander just before eating, and eat within two days of picking.

Storing them Berries are easy to freeze and store. Spread whole berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for three to four hours until frozen. Place frozen berries in freezer bags for delicious treats well into the winter months. For a list of farms or orchards in Minnesota, see the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

For tips on making jams and jellies from berries, visit the food preservation section of University of Minnesota Extension's Web site.


Trina Barno is a health and nutrition educator with University of Minnesota Extension.