Fruits and veggies should always be a big part of your diet. But apples and bananas can get a little boring after a while. Serious Eats has revealed 15 different types of berries that you've probably never tried, but should!
White and Golden Raspberries: Raspberries, like blackberries and many other thorny berries, are members of the Rosaceae family—just like roses. The raspberry family includes dozens of different varieties, which vary in color from very pale (almost white) to golden, blue, red, and black. The yellow variety shows up pretty regularly at farmer's markets.
Flavor: Like red raspberries but very mild and more floral, both a little less tart and a little less sweet than their darker counterparts.
Season: June, July, August
Uses: Lighter colored raspberries are extra delicate both in flavor and in texture so they're better suited to eating fresh than baking. Great for muddling in cocktails made with sparkling wine or club soda, whether they include gin or rum.
Black Raspberry: Black raspberry isn't just a sno-cone flavor; it's a raspberry that's colored like a blackberry. A reliable way to tell the difference between blackberries and black raspberries is that blackberries retain their inner cone when they are picked and black raspberries come off the core, leaving the picked berry hollow. While all the other colors of raspberries are fairly interchangeable when it comes to flavor and use, black raspberries are smaller, sturdier, and a bit more tart and earthy. Black raspberries are a native species to North America, as opposed to a hybrid like boysenberries, which they resemble.
Flavor: Similar to red raspberries but slightly more intense, tart, and with a deeper brambly flavor hinting towards blackberry.
Season: A very short, two to three week season, generally around July
Uses: Black raspberries are very versatile since they're slightly sturdier than other raspberries. Where lighter, more delicate berries tend to fall apart and might need more sugar or binding agents to keep them cohesive in a pie filling or a jam, the sturdier black raspberries hold together better. Put 'em in jam, pie, or muffins.
Dewberry: Dewberries are closely related to blackberries, and while they can be found in the wild across much of US, they're especially common in the South. The leaves are used for tea and are often called for in folk medicine (they're recommended for *ahem* lady issues, like raspberry leaf). The dewberry vine grows on creeping canes, lower to the ground than a blackberry plant. The stems have small, fine red hairs in addition to thorns. Dewberries ripen slightly earlier than blackberries.
Flavor: Comparable to wild blackberry, tart and intense.
Season: Late June through July.
Uses: Pie, cobbler, or a syrup for drinks.
Huckleberry: Huckleberries are a smooth, round berry that ranges in color from red to dark blue. They're almost easier to forage than to find at the market (if you can avoid the poison oak, that is.) Huckleberries played such a large part in the cuisine of the Plateau Native Americans (Idaho, Montana, and Washington) that there still are festivals to celebrate the first harvest—dried huckleberries sustained native populations through long cold winters. One difference between huckleberries and blueberries is the presence of seeds; blueberry seeds are so small that they you'd never know there were there. Huckleberry seeds are a little bit larger, though you don't need to spit them out or worry about separating them out for cooking- they're entirely edible.
Flavor: These sweet-tart flavor-packed berries are somewhat comparable to blueberry but more woodsy, almost vinous.
Season: Early to mid fall.
Uses: Huckleberries are great in pancakes; just add them in as you would blueberries. They're also excellent in scones, since they're nice and sturdy. If you want to go savory, cook huckleberries with just a little bit of sugar and serve with roasted meat.
Elderberry: Elderberries are tiny and blue-black, wonderful for baking and also for making into wine. The history of elderberry wine in England and in Central and Eastern Europe goes back hundreds of years—it was particularly popular in 17th century England as a purported cure for the flu and the common cold. The unripe berries and other parts of the plant have very mild toxic properties, which are neutralized when they are cooked or fermented. Even ripe berries can sometimes contain the alkaloids which will make you sick; it's best to be on the safe side and always cook or ferment them. Elderflowers come from the same plant as elderberries, and have a heady fragrance and floral flavor, perfect for infusing into syrups, sodas, or cordials. (You've probably tried St. Germain before, but the homemade stuff is worth the effort.)
Flavor: Elderberries are very sour with a touch of sweetness. You'll need to cook them with sweetener to make them palatable but cooked they have a lovely floral, herbacious, deep berry flavor.
Uses: Use elderberries in buckles, pancakes, pies, galettes, shrubs, and sodas. The flowers make wonderful syrups and cordials.
Lingonberry: You know where you've seen these guys before: in jam available in the food section of IKEA. Lingonberries play very prominently in Scandinavian cuisine; you really shouldn't serve Swedish Meatballs without a tart dollop of lingonberry sauce. Lingonberries are native to boreal forest and the arctic tundra. They are more recently being commercially cultivated in the Pacific Northwest. These berries are closely related to cranberries, although I think they really seem more similar to gooseberries or red currants. Where I work at Tartine in San Francisco, a visiting Swedish chef recently made Swedish meatballs for everyone on his last night before heading home. For lack of lingonberries, he made cranberry sauce instead. He then spent the entire dinner crestfallen that the whole dish was ruined because the cranberries just weren't the same.
Flavor: Sour, tart, bright.
Season: Short arctic summer. Farther south you'll find them in late summer.
Use: Mash lingonberries raw with a sprinkle of sugar and spread on toast, pancakes, or cookies. Or cook them into a syrup, sauce, or compote, and serve as it traditional: with meatballs, elk, or reindeer. (Don't tell Rudolph.)
Cloudberry: Cloudberries are native to the arctic tundra and only grow in extreme cold weather. They look a little like raspberries, but with fewer and larger lobes and a lovely orangey-rose color. They figure prominently in traditional Scandinavian cuisine, where they're used in compotes, vinaigrettes, and jams, and also appear in Inuit cuisine.
Cloudberries are so delicate and prefer such extreme growing conditions that they haven't been cultivated much in the past. They are fairly difficult to find, although they are starting to become more commercially available, perhaps thanks to a burgeoning American taste for all things Scandinavian.
Flavor: Cloudberries are very juicy, and they taste a bit like a cross between a raspberry and a red currant. They are fairly tart when eaten raw with a bit of floral sweetness.
Season: a short period in late summer.
Use: Cloudberries make a stunning deep ruby-amber jam with a lovely, balanced flavor.
What other berries are you missing out on? Click here to read the rest of the story on Serious Eats.