The Orinda Farmers’ Market joins in to celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month in June. Stands are full of in-season produce waiting to fill shopper’s bags and baskets. It’s also the time when all kinds of berries arrive, including more strawberries which open and close the berry season.
Subtle differences distinguish members of the blackberry family, but along with their raspberry cousins their structures are similar. Numerous plump juicy “kernels” make up the shape of the berry. Blackberries are fairly firm and solid, while raspberries are hollow and fragile after harvesting.
True blackberries sport a shiny, purple black color and when mature range from one-half to one inch in length. Other hybrid blackberries like boysenberry, olallieberry and marionberry are dusty maroon in color while loganberry and tayberry are identified by a subtle red hue.
Blueberries are a market favorite, prized for their flavor, health benefits and pop-in-your-mouth convenience. Remember to check for a natural “bloom” on the blueberries that looks like a dusting of powder — it’s your clue to freshness.
Berries arrive ripe and ready to eat. Use as soon as possible after purchasing as they deteriorate quickly. If storage is necessary, arrange a single layer of unwashed berries in a shallow pan lined with paper towels. Top with another layer of towels and refrigerate for one or two days. Wash just before serving.
Berries freeze well so you can enjoy them all year. Spread washed berries in a tray and freeze them individually before placing in freezer bags. They’ll keep for 10 to 12 months. Thaw and use in yogurt or smoothies or use frozen in crisps and pies.
The Orinda market is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way in front of Rite Aid and the Community Park. For more information go to www.cccfm.org or call the market hotline at 925-431-8361.
Berry Oatmeal Smoothie
Quick, easy, healthy and delicious!
2 cups mixed berries, washed
1 cup cooked old fashioned oats
1 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Cinnamon to taste
One quarter cup milk (1 or 2 per cent)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 4 servings.