“They’re not in season right now,” is a phrase no one wants to hear when craving the sweetness and freshness of a berry in the middle of winter. On the bright side, if you act on it right now, there are several ways to enjoy our favorite native-grown berries all year round! The benefits to shopping for fruit at a local farm don’t end with a level of freshness we won’t get anywhere else — our purchases will also be helping to support the farms in our area. Many of these farms allow us to pick your own berries and enjoy the experience with our friends or family. So remember: the only way to get farm-to-table freshness is from farm-to table products!There are farms in and around Mansfield that offer fresh berries at peak ripeness. There are many benefits to shopping for fruit at a local farmers' market or farm stand. You can also find fresh berries in season at the Storrs Farmers Market every Saturday afternoon on the Town Hall lawn. In addition to a level of freshness you won’t get anywhere else, you will also be helping to support local farms, and you may be able to enjoy picking your own berries and making memories with friends or family. Be sure to contact the farms for information on availability.
Once you bring your farm-grown berries home there are a few great ways to preserve them to make them last longer. One of the best ways is to freeze them. To accomplish this, rinse them thoroughly. Next, make sure they are FULLY dried with a towel. Once dried, place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, then spread out the berries individually to ensure they are not touching one another. Place the juicy berries in the freezer overnight to ensure that they will not be frozen together. Take them out the next morning and place them into plastic bags, removing as much air as possible. This process can help berries last up to six months in a normal freezer, and a year in a deep freezer.
There are many ways to turn your berries into different forms of treats to enjoy. Some common ones include: dehydrated berries, jams, fruit spreads, and fruit leather. Here is a recipe to try for Mixed Berry Jam by Alison Roman of The New York Times (2022)
Trinity Jones, Sophomore. Edwin O. Smith High School Agri-Science Program, Plant Science
Quinn Hope, Junior. Storrs Regional FFA & Plant Science Student in UCONN ECE Fundamentals of Horticulture Course