Here are some great tips from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on how to pick and store fresh berries.
Pick red, ripe strawberries with their caps and stems. Keep strawberries cool – don’t leave them in a hot car or in direct sunlight; refrigerate immediately. Store in shallow containers so as not to crush the berries; do not remove the caps until ready to use or process. Use within three days.
Raspberries are probably the most delicate of the berries. Pick into shallow containers. Ripe raspberries will separate easily from the plant. Handle gently and refrigerate immediately. Do not wash until ready to use or process. Use within 1-2 days.
To pick, hold the cluster in your hand and gently roll your thumb over the berries; ripe berries will separate from the plant. Sort out twigs and leaves prior to refrigerating. Blueberries may be placed in deep containers during picking and storing. Do not wash until ready to use or process. Will keep in refrigerator up to two weeks.
Jam and Jelly Making Tips
- Because of their flavor and coloring, Minnesota Grown berries make ideal jams, jellies and preserves.
- Do not reduce sugar or use sugar substitutes. The exact amount of sugar, fruit and pectin is necessary for a good set. Do not double recipes; mixture may not set.
- Use fully-ripened fruit and fruit juice at room temperature to help sugar dissolve. Crush berries one cup at a time; a potato masher works well. If using a food processor, pulse (on/off) to chop fruit – do not puree!
- You can use unsweetened frozen fruit. Thaw the fruit to room temperature and crush to equal the same amount of crushed fresh fruit.
- For freezer jam, use clean plastic containers with tight-fitting lids that have been rinsed with boiling water.
- For recipes and other tips for preserving Minnesota berries, visit the University of Minnesota Extension Service's web site.