Berry season is already upon us! Fresh berries can provide many wonderful nutrients that may decrease our risk of cancer and heart disease. To get the most out of those berries we need to be “food safe” when picking, selecting, or storing berries.
- Washing hands before handling fruit, after a break, or hand-to-face contact.
- If water isn’t available for optimum hand washing, use hand wipes or hand sanitizer.
- Do not pick berries that have already fallen to the ground.
- Select bright, colorful berries. For example, strawberries won’t ripen after picking. Avoid seedy berries.
- Use clean, food-grade containers for picked berries.
- Leave your pets at home.
- Only pick what you can use, freeze, or share.
After picking berries store in coolers with ice and do not leave them out over 2 hours at room temperature. Before refrigerating, thoroughly wash fruit. Prevent cross-contamination with other foods by storing away from meats. If you plan to freeze berries, rinse and drain or pat dry. Berries frozen quickly will yield better quality and less chance for cross-contamination.
Just one cup of strawberries will provide a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and folate – all for 50 calories. Research has linked a diet rich in berries to reduced risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, and improved gastrointestinal health.
Writter: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.
Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.