Vegan Cooking Tips
Very Berry Cuisine
Aren't fresh berries wonderful? Fresh blueberries, red or white raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, mulberries (if you can find them), boysenberries, and cherries can be eaten as is. They can also top hot and cold cereal, convert steamed rice into a morning hot dish or a dessert, and garnish green or spinach salads. Berries can be mixed into pancake batter, used as the 'sweet' in sweet-andsour salad dressings (such as oil and vinegar), tossed into smoothies, frozen into ice cubes, mixed into iced tea, and spooned over vegan ice cream. And that's just for starters!
PREPARATION AND STORAGE
No matter how you are going to use your berries, hold off on washing them until it is time to eat them. When you are ready, wash the berries under the coldest water possible. Do not let them soak—quick but thorough, in and out. Berries that sit in water tend to sog and lose some of their nutritional value.
Some berries are more durable than others. Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries should be eaten quickly. (This should not be a problem!) However, fresh cherries and blueberries may last for up to five days in the refrigerator. If you are going to refrigerate them, store the berries in a shallow bowl or on a plate. This allows for air circulation and helps to avoid bruising and squashing.
You can also freeze fresh berries. Simply spread them into a single layer on a flat plate or pan that will fit in your freezer. They should freeze quickly. Once the berries are frozen, you can put them in containers or freezer bags. Stir them frozen into muffin or pancake batters or into smoothies, or garnish desserts with them. Or simply use your frozen berries as a fast treat. What could be more luscious than popping some fresh frozen blueberries into your mouth on a hot day?
Just so you don't get berry burnout, here are two more suggestions for using berries:
- How about a berry salsa? Use the berries of your choice, tossed with fresh mint, a little vinegar, a pinch of black pepper, a splash of fruit juice, and a very, very small amount of chopped chilies! Use this salsa the way you would for more traditional ones—as a dip for chips, a topping for nachos, or a garnish for tofu or veggies.
- For a satiny berry sauce, place approximately 1 cup of berries in a blender. Add a small amount of vegan sour cream and a dash of maple syrup or rice syrup. Blend until smooth. Serve with a slice of cake or raisin toast, with waffles or pancakes, over vegan ice cream, or as a dressing for fresh fruit salad.