Holiday Berry Recipes You Might Just Want to Eat All Year Long

Just because apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash dominate the culinary landscape in the fall doesn’t mean you can’t serve impressive berry entrees and desserts at your holiday parties. Here’s our roundup of holiday berry recipes with warm, harvesty flavors your guests will swoon over.

 

Roasted Berry and Brie Kale Salad

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As if we needed proof that strawberries and blueberries could get richer and more flavorful, this recipe takes humble berries to the next level by roasting them with a bit of salt and pepper, then tossing them with baby kale and tangy brie. Makes a great leftover lunch after the parties have wrapped.

 

 

Raspberry Red Wine Cranberry Sauce

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One bite of this red zinfandel–spiked sauce, on its own or drizzled over your turkey and stuffing, and you’ll never go back to traditional, sugar-laden cranberry sauce.

 

Spicy Turkey Wraps with Strawberry Salsa

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Looking for an alternative to the typical sliced Thanksgiving turkey? Try this spicy-sweet wrap—ideal for buffet-style parties or as finger sandwiches on the hors d’oeuvres table.

 

Maple and Blackberry Orange Glazed Ham

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If complex flavors are your thing, look no farther than this Maple and Blackberry Orange Glazed Ham. It’s a great way to give top billing to those blackberry preserves you made back in the summer, combined with that quintessential harvest flavor, maple.

 

Wild Blueberry Egg Nog

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Blueberries and bourbon? Turns out they’re a match made in holiday heaven. This dairy-free, gluten-free recipe offers an egg-free option, which also makes it great for serving to vegans and those with food intolerances.

 

Fig-and-Raspberry Tart with Chestnut Honey

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We love this tart for a grown-up dinner party. The mix of savory spices like bay and rosemary balance out the sweetness of raspberries and figs, and the chestnut honey lends an unexpectedly spicy flavor.

 

Triple Berry Pie

Go all in with this berry trifecta—the perfect way to enjoy some of those blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries from the farmers’ market that you stashed in the freezer.

 

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberry Santas

Because it’s never too early to start planning tasty (and adorable) winter or Christmas desserts, here’s a recipe that’s equal parts delicious and crafty, featuring creamy cheesecake, plump strawberries, and chocolate chips. Kids will love helping to make these fun little edible Santas.

 

Are Frozen Berries as Nutritious as Fresh? You Bet!

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A May article in The Guardian posed the following question and answer:

Q: Fresh [food] is best – right?

A: In fact, studies on the relative benefits of fresh and frozen show no consistent differences.

As far back as the late 1990s, the Food & Drug Administration declared that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. Meanwhile, a more recent story on Health.com notes, “Some of the healthiest foods in the market are in the freezer section.” 

So when it comes to those local berries you bought and froze during the summer, rest assured that enjoying them during the fall and winter doesn’t mean that your favorite recipes will lack for any of the health benefits that make strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries the superfoods they are. No matter whether fresh or frozen, berries are nutritional powerhouses that can contribute to a variety of positive health effects, from preventing to disease to maintaining a consistent weight.

The ability of frozen fruit and vegetables to retain their nutritional value has a lot to do with the quick-freezing and flash-freezing technologies that have been developed and refined since the 1920s. These days, frozen berries show no significant difference in nutrient levels as their fresh counterparts. They’ve also improved a lot in texture and flavor, thanks to manufactures’ desire to satisfy the savvy customer’s demand for healthier, better-tasting, and better-quality foods.

So take out a bag or two of your frozen farmers’ market berries and allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge. Add strawberries or blackberries to pancakes or acai bowls, fold blueberries into muffins and breads, and savor raspberries in sauces for meat and fish. Or enjoy enjoy a mix of berries in pies, tarts, trifles, and parfaits—without guilt or fear that they’re not as good for you as their freshly picked friends.

 

Farmers' Market Finds with Dale Ila Riggs

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This summer, NYSBGA board chair Dale Ila Riggs was interviewed by Albany radio station WEQX about how she got her start in farming and why growing and selling healthy, happy berries has become such an important part of her work. Listen to the interview through the link below.

8 Raspberry Recipes to Enjoy This Fall

If you live in an area with local farm stands that grow fall raspberries—and we hope you do!—we’ve rounded up eight amazing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes that are perfect for weekdays or for serving to guests.

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For a heartier breakfast on chilly mornings, use a half-and-half mix of whole wheat or almond flour and all-purpose in these Lemon Poppy Pancakes with Raspberry Sauce. Or use all almond flour for a gluten-free version.

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Forget the jam; use this velvety Raspberry Butter on toast, pancakes, muffins, even fresh corn. Make a double batch and freeze half to use later.

 

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This tangy Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette goes with any salad—hot or cold.

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Looking for a grown-up alternative to raspberry lemonade? Try Raspberry Basil Limoncello, a sophisticated combination of fruit, herbs, and liqueur.

 

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A chewy, hearty flavor blast, this easy Black Rice and Raspberry Salad is also full of other healthy ingredients like sprouts and herbs.

 

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The Chipotle Raspberry Sauce in this slow-cooker taquitos recipe can be used with almost any baked, grilled, or roasted meat or fish dish.

 

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Light, fluffy, and bursting with crunchy almonds and sweet raspberries, this Raspberry Almond Cake takes just two bowls and a few steps to whip up.

 

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Not for the short on time or patience, this multistep Raspberry Spice Cake recipe pays off in a huge way with a cake that looks as impressive as those at a high-end bakery, plus the unexpected combo of fall-friendly spices with delicate raspberries.

 

Member Spotlight: Abbott Farms

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms

Ask most farmers what they grow and sell, and they’ll enumerate a list of fruits and vegetables. Ask Warren Abbott of Abbott Farms, and the answer is “Fun.”

Of course, the farm also sells other products, and lots of them—including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, rhubarb, asparagus, sweet corn, pumpkins, Italian prunes, and apples, as well as beef, hard cider, and wine. But what Abbott Farms—located in Baldwinsville and in operation, in the same family, since 1866—focuses on most of all is the customer. “We really sell an experience,” Warren explains, noting that the farm has up to 85 employees seasonally each year, most of them in customer service–related roles. 

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms Baldwinsville NY

Prior to 1964, Abbott Farms was a small subsistence dairy. They added grain and potatoes at that time, and a small store for some retail sales by the early ’70s. In 1993, with the addition of a new store, they shifted their focus toward retail, and by 2007 had left the grain market entirely. These days, under the management of their fifth generation of farmers, they sell wholesale only if there’s extra supply. Recently, they added hard cider and wine, to satisfy the customer demand for quality local products and the in-person touch.

Over the years, the Abbotts have found that in order to sell in volume, customers require that the products be grown right on the farm. “Every time we decide to grow an item we sell, we triple sales of that item instantly,” Warren says. “I would have never guessed it would be so dramatic. We would have made that change sooner [if we had known].”

New York State Berry Growers Abbott Farms Baldwinsville NY 2

Crop losses from SWD encouraged the Abbotts to walk away from growing fall raspberries and day-neutral strawberries, though Warren says they may restart those crops “if control methods are available and economical.” As a business, Abbott Farms’ bigger challenges have been expanding frequently to maintain income; labor rates and regulation; and finding, training, and keeping good employees in seasonal positions.

For now, they’re focusing on frequent shake-ups to their strategy to maintain consumer interest. “The cidery will take some time to dial in, but it’s the most exciting and promising change since 2007,” Warren says, adding that they’ll be introducing a hard-cider tasting room soon. Besides the many varieties of fruit and sweet ciders available for tasting, they also offer happy-making products like 10 flavors of fudge and more than 20 flavors of ice cream. And they try to emphasize to customers that they select berry varieties for flavor, and pick for flavor and sugar content—not shipping and storage hardiness—to bring audience back week after week.

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On-farm events—such as foot races, berry festivals, pancake breakfasts, a weekly festival in the fall, weekly farmers’ markets, and birthday parties—have been a big success. These events keep Abbott Farms top of mind—and tops in word-of-mouth referrals—for customers, as does maintaining a regular e-mail and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter presence. They also advertise on billboards and in family and leisure guides in season.

Even though Abbott Farms is tech- and marketing-savvy, they still make sure the personal touch comes across in everything they do. Warren says, “We will continue to offer educational, family fun, while picking fruit and relaxing around the farm.” Maybe even for another 150 years.

Snack Roundup: The 10 Best Blueberry Recipes

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With blueberries at their peak for the next few weeks, we’ve rounded up our favorite blueberry recipes—savory and sweet—to keep this sweet and superhealthy fruit in your menu rotation all week long.

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Anytime we hear blueberry and cake in the same sentence, we’re in. We’ll be starting the day with this Blueberry Breakfast Cake all summer.

Blueberry Breakfast bake Whole Foods

                      

This delightful morning variation on bread pudding is assembled the night before you serve it, making it perfect for when you have guests or when you want to present your family with something special on the weekend.

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Two things we love (besides berries): naan and pizza. And we love them even more when combined with blueberries into this savory-sweet Blueberry, Feta, and Honey-Caramelized Onion Naan Pizza.

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Use this Savory Blueberry Sauce to top roasted chicken or pork.

Blueberry mozzarella honey crisps

Who knew bruschetta could taste this good by swapping out the traditional tomato topping with blueberries?

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This Scandinavian-style Blueberry Soup is a one-pot wonder that works equally well with fresh or frozen berries, so you can enjoy it all year long.

Delish Berry Cheesecake Bars recipe

Pull out a few of those fresh strawberries you froze last month and put together this heavenly combo of blueberry and strawberry Cheesecake Bars.

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Try pairing the zing of ginger with the natural sweetness of cooked berries in this Blueberry Ginger Pie.

Blueberry pecan galette bon appetit recipe

This Blueberry Pecan Galette looks as impressive as it tastes, but it’s not difficult to make. Whip up the crust up to two days before guests arrive, then mix together the filling and bake.

Lucious Blueberry Cinnamon Smoothie recipe

Packed with protein, antioxidants, and tons of flavor, this smoothie is the perfect midday pick-me-up, especially when you’re trying to avoid sugary snacks.

 

 

 

 

 

The (Many) Health Benefits of Blueberries

New York State Berry Growers health benefits of blueberries

The (Many) Health Benefits of Blueberries

It’s no secret that a colorful fruits, especially blueberries, offer a variety of health benefits. From reduced risk of debilitating diseases to improved complexion and hair, blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse that have significant positive effects on human health. And new studies are showing that blueberries can even enhance cognitive function. With summer—and fresh berries—due to arrive in farmers’ markets and on farm stand shelves in a little more than a month, there’s never been a better time to incorporate fresh, local blueberries into your diet. 

Blueberries are chock-full of many health-promoting vitamins and compounds, including anthocyanins, a flavonoid that has been linked to protection against free radical damage and a decreased risk of cancer, obesity, and diabetes. The blueberry is also known to support heart health, with high levels of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Likewise, this humble fruit’s high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium all help to decrease blood pressure. Blueberries are also high in vitamin K, which improves calcium absorption—a low intake of which has been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture. Some studies even suggest that regular eating of blueberries can promote healthy skin and hair, increase energy, and contribute to weight loss.

Recent studies have demonstrated the blueberry’s positive effect on cognitive function. A pair of 2014 studies found that consumption of blueberries can improve short-term memory loss and motor coordination, and in patients with the neurodegenerative disorder Parkinson’s disease, consumption of blueberries has been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline.  Another study found that blueberries (in a freeze-dried powder form) may also have an effect on the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts,” concluded lead author Robert Krikorian.

The latest study, published in March 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition, provided more evidence that blueberry consumption improves cognitive function. The authors found that adults age 60 to 75 who consumed 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder (the equivalent of one cup fresh berries) daily showed significant improvement in verbal memory, repetition, and task switching over their placebo-group counterparts.

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Blueberry Nutrition at a Glance

A 1-cup serving of blueberries contains:

  • 84 calories
  • 3.6 grams of dietary fiber (14% of daily requirement)
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • 1.1 grams of protein
  • .49 grams of fat
  • 21 grams of carbohydrate
  • 24% of an adult's recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, 5% of vitamin B6, and 36% of vitamin K
  • Iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, copper, folate, beta-carotene, folate, choline, vitamin A, vitamin E
  • Phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity, including anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and chlorogenic acid

To locate a farm in your area of New York that sells fresh, locally grown berries, visit our Find a Farm directory.

6 Ways to Enjoy Fresh-Tasting, Local Strawberries All Year Long

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6 Ways to Enjoy Fresh-Tasting, Local Strawberries 

. . . All Year Long

Summer is just getting under way here in the Northeast, and we’re looking forward to several weeks’ worth of fresh, juicy strawberries. But short of going on an all-strawberry diet—which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound like a bad idea—we often find ourselves with extra berries. And since the thought of tossing even part of our bounty makes us want to cry into our berry smoothies, we’ve developed several ways to keep the good times rolling—and the berries fresh-tasting—all year long.

Freeze them! This is the easiest way to preserve all that strawberry goodness long after the growing season has ended. First, be sure that the berries you’re using are fully ripe; they should be deep red and firm. Remove the stems and caps, and wash and drain the fruit. Place the berries in a single layer on towels to dry; then pop the whole berries into containers or freezer bags (squeeze as much air as possible out of the bags), and place in the freezer.

You can also slice the berries in half or lightly crush them, place them in a bowl, and stir 1/2 cup sugar into each quart of berries, and gently mix till the sugar is dissolved. Freeze them in containers. To use, allow the berries to thaw completely, and drain off excess water. The water can be used for smoothies, so don’t throw it out!

Make berry cubes. In a mixing bowl, gently crush up to a pint of berries. Add enough filtered or spring water to make a chunky liquid. If you like extra sweetness, add 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, and stir well until the sugar is dissolved. If you prefer a mix of savory and sweet flavors, skip the sugar and add a handful of clean, finely chopped fresh basil, mint, or rosemary. Spoon the mixture into clean ice cube trays. For a sweet berry blast in cocktails and other drinks, pop a couple of frozen berry cubes into the glass.

Make jam or jelly. Each cook seems to have his or her own jam recipe, so don’t be afraid to experiment! If you’ve never tried making strawberry jam before, it couldn’t be easier. Try this recipe for ultra-simple, no-cook freezer jam, or this recipe for more traditional, cooked strawberry preserves.

Dry them. Skip the teeny-tiny, overpriced packages of strawberries sold in some gourmet stores. Instead, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Clean your fresh berries, remove the stems and caps, and slice them in half. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and lay the berries cut side up on top. Slide the sheet into the oven, and dry the berries for 2 hours. Flip them over, and dry for 2 hours more. Allow the berries to cool completely, and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. They shrink quite a bit when dried, so you’ll be able to pack quite a few into each container.

If you have a dehydrator, you can dry the sliced berries at 135 degrees F for 8 to 10 hours for soft berries, or 10 to 14 hours for crisp ones.

Although store-bought dried strawberries have added sugar, baking them on a low heat setting really concentrates their sweetness, so we skip that step. Why mess with perfection?

Mix up a quick strawberry sauce. This simple sauce is a classic for topping pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and cakes, but it’s also good in savory dishes. Mix it with some balsamic vinaigrette for salads; add it to marinades for chicken, fish, or pork; or drain off a bit of the liquid and spread it over artisanal bread for grilled cheese sandwiches. This sauce will keep in the fridge for several days, and you can also freeze it

Craft your own strawberry wine. This recipe requires a bit of attention and a lot of patience, to keep you from sampling the wares before they’re ready, but it’s well worth the effort and the handful of specialty supplies, especially if you’ve got guests coming over for the holidays. Trust us: you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.

Don’t miss out on the summer berry harvest! Find a farm in your area today.

How to Pick the Best, Most Luscious Berries

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How to Pick the Best, Most Luscious Berries

The sweet little white blooms of our strawberry plants are the first—and most welcome—sign that summer is on its way. Since those happy flowers will transform into delicious fruits in just a couple of short weeks, we’ve put together this guide for how to pick the best berries.

1. Buy local! Strawberries that are shipped in from across the country or over country borders are picked prior to ripening, to keep them from deteriorating quickly. But berries generally don’t ripen after picking, and pre-ripe berries are often flavorless. To find a New York State berry farm in your area, visit our Find a Farm directory.

2. Look for bright color and firm flesh. Select only strawberries that are shiny and firm, with a rich red color and caps and/or stems that are a vibrant green and fresh-looking. Avoid berries that have white or green flesh around the cap or in the center of the berry.

3. Remember that size and shape don’t equal quality. Supermarket berries are bred and selected for their uniform appearance, but their flavor and texture can’t compare to their sweet, juicy farm stand cousins. So even if the berries have a funny shape or vary in size, as long as they’re ripe, they’ll still taste great!

4. Plan a midmorning harvest. If you’re planning to visit a U-pick, or pick-your-own, berry farm, time your trip for midmorning, after the dew has evaporated but the berries are still cool to the touch. Harvest the berries by holding the fruit with one hand and using the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand to snap the stem. Avoid grabbing the fruit and pulling downward on the berry; this can damage them.

Once you get home, take the strawberries out of the carton and look for any that might be partially squashed or have the beginnings of mold growth; remove these berries to prevent additional mold from forming. Wash only what you need for the moment, and refrigerate the unwashed remainder.

Refrigerated berries will generally stay fresh for up to a week. But between slicing them over granola, adding them to pies and muffins, using them in sweet-savory recipes, and munching on them by the handful, our berries never seem to last that long. . . .

Strawberries Show Promise as a Potent Weapon against Oral Cancer

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Strawberries Show Promise

As a Potent Weapon against Oral Cancer

With fresh, local strawberries due on farmers’ market shelves in May, it’s easy to enjoy the cancer-protective benefits of berries all year long.

As the strawberry-growing season heats up, researchers are putting renewed attention into studying the beneficial effects of berries, including strawberries, on cancer. The berries’ cancer-fighting potential may be even greater than previously thought, with their many nutritional compounds providing protection against—and, in some cases, even reversal of—oral cancer. 

The strawberry’s effectiveness against oral cancer first came to light in a 2011 study in China, which was led by cancer researchers at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. In the study, patients with mild to moderate precancerous lesions of the esophagus consumed one to two ounces a day of a drink made with freeze-dried strawberry powder, made from whole berries. After six months, the progression of the disease was reversed in 80% of patients, from moderate to mild or from mild to completely eliminated.

In April 2017, OSU scientists presented the results of another study, in which they administered a candy containing the equivalent of 2.5 cups of whole strawberries to a group of smokers and nonsmokers. Participants ate the candy four times a day for a week, while abstaining from eating other red and purple vegetables.

At the end of one week, saliva and tissue samples from the smokers who consumed the strawberry candy showed significant differences, including in “changes in the microbiome, or bacteria, and in the expression of genes, both which may play a role in cancer’s development,” according to a summary on Newsmax Health. Encouraged by these preliminary results, OSU researchers are currently recruiting 250 smokers for their new study.

Strawberries pack an array of antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds, including anthocyanins, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and ellagitannins. They’re also high in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, several B vitamins, folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to being a promising treatment for oral and other cancers, studies have found a positive correlation between berries and improved cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and improved blood-sugar regulation (and, thus, reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes).

Fresh, local berries often contain more nutrients than imported foods, and can easily be purchased in larger quantities and frozen for year-round enjoyment. To freeze fresh strawberries, simply remove the stems and caps, rinse well, and drain; then place the berries in a single layer on clean towels to dry. Place the dry berries in plastic containers or bags, and freeze until needed.

To find a local farm near you, visit our Find-a-Farm directory.