Recipes

Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Day Cakes with Mixed Berry Filling

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Valentine’s Day has traditionally been associated with decadent treats like chocolate mousse, butter-laden cookies, and boxes of chocolate, or with cakes and tarts that require hours of time in the kitchen. This year, skip the lengthy prep work and extra calories with what might just be the perfect Valentine’s dessert: a lighter, simple-to-make Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cake with Mixed Berry Filling.

 

You can put together this dessert using a short list of common ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The best part? They take less than 30 minutes to make—including just 10 minutes’ active prep time—and look as impressive as a dessert at your favorite restaurant. When you cut into the cake, the berries provide a sweet, juicy burst against the velvety chocolate the ideal complement to a variety of romantic dishes.

 

For a lusciously creamy touch, spoon a bit of homemade dairy or coconut whipped cream over the Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cake with Mixed Berry Filling. Serve with a fruity red wine or dessert port.

 

Molten Chocolate Valentine’s Cakes with Mixed Berry Filling

Makes 2 cakes


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Ingredients

A handful of fresh or thawed frozen mixed berries

2 teaspoons raspberry, blackberry, or strawberry preserves

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup applesauce

1 tablespoon melted butter or vegan butter

2 1/2 tablespoons organic cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heaping 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons organic unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch Himalayan or sea salt

2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, melted

2 chunks good-quality dark chocolate

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two slots in a muffin tin with butter or vegan butter, and coat with a small amount of cocoa powder. Shake the tin to cover the slots completely, then shake out the excess. Alternatively, line the slots with reusable silicone muffin liners.

2. In a small bowl, coarsely mash the berries with the berry preserves.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the vinegar and almond milk. Allow the milk to curdle for 5 minutes.

4. Add the applesauce, butter or vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla, and beat with a mixer or a whisk until foamy. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and mix until free from large lumps. Do not overmix. Fold in the melted semisweet chocolate.

5. Fill each of the two muffin slots two-thirds full with batter. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the mixed berries in the center of the batter, and top with a chocolate chunk; gently press the chocolate into the berry mixture. Fill the remainder of the muffin slot with cake batter.

6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cake have begun to pull away from the muffin tin and the top of the cake is mostly dry. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

7. Using a butter knife, gently loosen the edges of the cake from the tin. Top the tin with an upside-down plate and carefully invert, allowing the cakes to dislodge from the tin. Carefully transfer to individual plates. If desired, top with whipped cream, powdered sugar, or fudge sauce.

 

 

 

Reinvent Your Holiday Leftovers with Berries

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The holidays are all about friends, family, and relaxation. They’re also about great food—and lots of it! While we always look forward to enjoying holiday leftovers, we sometimes wish for a little novelty to make those favorite dishes seem new and exciting, even several days later.

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your holiday leftovers is by adding berries. Not only do they add a touch of sweetness to savory recipes and a nutritious boost to desserts, but they’re also versatile, complementing a wide range of flavors and cuisine styles.

Here are just a few ways to use some of those local farmers’ market berries you froze last summer or fall.

 

Salads. Thaw blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Strain off the liquid and mix the berries into virtually any salad, from a classic Caesar to a peppery arugula, red onion, and Gorgonzola combination.

 

Ham. Switch out the traditional cherries and pineapple and spoon a simple mixed-berry compote over your sandwich or slice of ham. If you prefer spicier flavors, chop up a jalapeno and add it to the compote while it’s cooking.

 

Roast beef or duck. Make a grown-up sauce by combining strawberries with red wine and a little sugar or honey; allow them to reduce on the stovetop. The wine will deepen the flavor of the berries, which will add brightness to the meat.

 

Rice. Stir dried or thawed raspberries or blackberries into long-grain rice dishes and pilaf for a sweet-tart kick.

 

Mashed sweet potatoes. Who knew blueberries paired so well with sweet potatoes? Roasted or raw, blueberries can be gently folded into your leftover sweet potatoes. Add a handful of chopped pecans for some crunch.

 

Cranberry sauce. Shake up your traditional cranberry sauce by adding 1/2 to 1 cup of raspberries. Heat until warm and bubbly, then serve.

 

Christmas, bread, or raisin pudding. This is another simple addition: just choose your favorite berries to complement the type of pudding, thaw them out, strain them, and sprinkle over the top of the pudding.

 

Gingerbread. Blueberries and gingerbread? Sounds unusual, but the taste is vibrant and sophisticated. Make an unsweetened or low-sugar compote—the berries and cake are sweet enough on their own!—then spoon it over the cake, and top with fresh whipped cream.

 

6 Strawberry Recipes You’ll Love for Spring & Summer

For us, spring hasn’t truly arrived until the first crop of strawberries is here. Since they’re almost here, we rounded up six fantastic appetizer, entrée, and dessert recipes for using your favorite fruit from now into summer.

 

Breakfast Flatbread with Ricotta and Strawberry-Basil Jam

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A breakfast version of pizza that combines the crunch of warm flatbread with the mild savoriness of ricotta and the floral-sweet flavor of a strawberry jam punched up with basil? Yes, please.

 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

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Strawberries are a natural counterpoint to tangy cheeses. This simple recipe, with the extra zing of balsamic vinegar, makes an easy yet unexpected party hors d’ouevre. Save the scooped-out strawberry centers for making compotes, smoothies, or strawberry ice cubes.

 

Citrus Steak Salad

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With its mix of oranges and strawberries, this take on sirloin is light, bright, and filling, and looks impressive, too.

 

Strawberry Horchata

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A twist on the classic Latin rice-based milk drink, this berry version of horchata will satisfy the sweetest of palates. Make it vegan—and a bit more grown up—by substituting half of the condensed milk with coconut milk and half with a cream liqueur, such as Amarula or Guappa.

 

Chocolate Strawberry Slump (Cobbler)

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Perfect for when you need a dessert that looks and tastes impressive but doesn’t take sophisticated kitchen skills—or a lot of time—to put together.

 

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Fudge

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Why let peanut butter, chocolate, or maple have all the fun? Strawberries make a delicious flavor and texture complement to this fudge, which is made entirely in the microwave.

 

 

Not Just for Dessert: How to Use Berries in Savory Recipes

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Berries are a no-brainer in dessert, as well as in dozens of waffle, pancake, muffin, and breakfast-cake recipes. But why stop there, when you can enjoy the phenomenal taste and supernutritious benefits of berries with every meal? Here’s a little inspiration for using strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries in some unexpected savory meals.

Serve berries in your next:

Raw salad. All berries, but especially strawberries and blueberries, are delicious with spinach, kale, mache, or mesclun mixes, where their sweetness takes the bite out of greens. Add a handful of nuts, like almonds or walnuts, for contrasting textures and extra nutritional punch.

Bruschetta. Fresh or as a jam, berries work beautifully with a drizzle of fine olive oil.

Grilled cheese. Make a berry jam or conserves—either from a single berry or mixed berries—and spread it over your bread before you grill cheese. We haven’t met a cheese yet that doesn’t taste amazing when paired with berries, so experiment with everything from sharp, tangy goat cheeses or aged hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago, to milder cheeses like Swiss, Gruyere, and cheddar.

Baked Brie. We weren’t kidding when we said berries go with any cheese! This dish never fails to please at dinner parties, but it couldn’t be easier to make. Simply stew the berries on the stovetop first to create a jammy consistency, the spoon it over freshly baked Brie.

Pizza. You could easily make a sweet—and crowd-pleasing—pizza with berries and a young goat cheese. But did you know that blackberries and raspberries provide a natural “lift” to earthier flavors like blue cheese and arugula? Or that strawberries and blueberries are a dream team when paired with spinach, mozzarella, and a dash of balsamic vinegar?

Sauce for proteins. This is one of our favorite—and probably the most underused—way to serve berries in a savory recipe. Stew them with a squeeze or two of agave or honey, plus a little cornstarch (if needed for thickening), then pour the sauce over roasted or grilled pork, beef, lamb, or tempeh. Serve with healthy grains like quinoa and brown rice.

Dipping sauce. Similar to the above, a stewed sauce of raspberries or strawberries makes a deliciously unexpected dip for fried chicken (or vegan “chicken”).

Spicy barbecue sauce. If you love a kick-in-the-pants barbecue sauce, try mixing berries along with chile peppers, like habanero, jalapeno, and chipotle, while cooking. Let the mixture sit for several hours before using, to deepen the flavors.

Ceviche. While berries may not seem like the most natural pairing with fish, they’re delightful in this traditional Latino dish, where citrus brings out their inherent brightness.

Tropical salsa. Mix the berries with mango, pineapple, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, a healthy squeeze of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Then serve over crispy fried tilapia or sea bass in fish tacos, or over shredded beef or pork nachos.

Mixed-berry Thanksgiving sauce. Tired of the same-old cranberry sauce? Reinvent it with a mixture of blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Your turkey—and your tastebuds—will thank you!

Cocktails. Sure, you’ve had berries in sweet spiked lemonades and iced teas. But have you tried them with stronger spirits? Muddle the berries with cachaça for an update on the Brazilian classic caipirinha, or blend with rum and mint for an unforgettable take on the mojito.

 

 

Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Give Yourself a Berry Boost!

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As the winter—with its cold, short days and long, dark nights—marches on, it’s not uncommon to start feeling low-energy, fatigued, or even down in the dumps. These feelings, plus our tendency to soothe ourselves with comfort foods during the winter months, can create stress that increases the number of free radicals in our bodies. An excess of free radicals can lead to a host of diseases and ailments, among them depression . . . and then the cycle perpetuates itself. But even though we still have a couple of months to go before we can start enjoying longer days and sunshine, we do have a potent weapon against the winter doldrums: berries.

Various studies have shown that the antioxidants in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries can significantly decrease the incidence of depression. Blueberries can even combat genetic and biochemical tendencies toward the depression and suicidal feelings that are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And because berries help prevent the release of cortisol, the well-known “stress hormone,” experts consider them one of the top foods for boosting mood and energy and improving concentration.

Start the day off on a positive note with a cup of green tea (another great stress reducer), followed by a berry-rich breakfast. If you love hearty breakfasts like pancakes and oatmeal, add a healthy serving of berries for a mood blast. But if a grab-and-go breakfast is more your style, try our Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie. It’s vegan and gluten-free, and you can even prep the ingredients the night before and store them in the fridge (except the banana; it’ll turn brown in cold storage). If the berries are frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, or in the fridge overnight. The next morning, toss everything in the blender, and you’re good to go!

 

Mood-Boosting Berry Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1 cup mixed berries 

1 banana

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1/4 cup roasted unsalted walnuts

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more almond milk until it reaches an easily drinkable consistency.

Berries for Breakfast: 7 Ways to Use Your Favorite Fruit to Start the Day

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Berries are the undisputed champ of the breakfast table, and with good reason: they’re not just a healthy way to kick off your day, they’re also incredibly versatile and full of flavor. And did we mention crowd-pleasing? We can’t think of another food that’s universally loved by both adults and kids.

And since there’s evidence that eating something sweet with breakfast can actually help you lose weight and keep it off, we think it’s a great time to make strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries a regular part of your breakfast routine. Here are seven of our favorite ways to enjoy berries for breakfast:

  1. In smoothies. Mix with cow’s milk or yogurt (or non-dairy milk or yogurt) and a banana for a rich, creamy texture. Or for a powerful antioxidant boost, blend with a handful of spinach or kale, plus a teaspoon of fresh ginger for a zingy wake-up drink.
  2. Fresh on top of oatmeal or cereal. Gluten free or low-carb? No problem! Try this nut porridge recipe, and sub out the apples and raisins with your favorite berry mix.  
  3. Fresh on top of pancakes or waffles, or a bowl of yogurt. We also love them cooked into the pancakes or waffles—just drop a handful of berries into the batter, once you’ve poured it into the waffle iron or skillet—with yogurt drizzled over the top! Add a handful of chopped walnuts for extra protein.
  4. Blended with acai, another superfood, to make acai bowls. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries all lend sweetness to the acai, and the combination creates a vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant blast that’s unmatched by any single food. Top with granola and more fresh berries, or for a tropical twist, add mango and pineapple chunks.
  5. In baked treats like muffins, scones, popovers, coffee cake, and sweet breads. Use a .5:1 mix of wheat and all-purpose flour for extra fiber, or try experimenting with almond flour for a gluten-free, protein-rich, flavor-packed breakfast you can grab on the go.
  6. Cooked into conserves or jams and spread over freshly made warm bread or toast.
  7. In homemade granola bars and oat squares. We’re partial to this vegan berry oat square recipe, featuring blueberries and strawberries, mixed with oatmeal, spices, and maple syrup.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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. . . .