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Virtual farmers market: What berries to buy this summer

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JUNE 13, 2018

It’s summer and it’s berry season, folks. Some say summer is also a time to go to beaches, buy some stone fruits, sleep in late. But the good berries you eat are what make your summer truly great.

Here is The Daily Californian’s definitive power ranking of the best summer fruit: berries.

5. Strawberries

Strawberries are the poster child of summer. But they don’t deserve to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good strawberry, but have you ever tasted a bad strawberry? It tastes like those flavored-water energy drinks that are “rich in electrolytes” and devoid of sugar — bad, very bad. It would even be better if underripe strawberries were tart. But they’re not, they’re just bad.

The only redeeming quality of strawberries is that they look cool — look at all those tiny chicken pox seeds stuck to the outside. I’ll save you the trouble of trying to count them all by telling you now that there can be more than 200 on a single strawberry. But at the end of the day, a neat exterior can’t make up for an inconsistent taste — just like they tell you in kindergarten, it’s what’s on the inside that matters.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are small and round. And they taste nice and sweet, sure. But honestly, that’s all they’ve got going for them. They are the fruit of yogurt parfaits and muffins; a scone is the highest honor they’ll ever receive, end of story.

3. Blackberries

Blackberries are finicky but delicious. Unlike strawberries, the payoff when they’re ripe compensates completely for the scrunch-your-nose-up tartness of the bad ones.

Blackberries are fun to pick too — not even at a farm, just trailside while on a hike. What could be better than an unexpected snack while you’re hot and dusty and out of trail mix? But even if you’re just buying them at the supermarket, there’s something fantastically rustic about them.

2. Cucumbers

Yes, cucumbers are technically berries — look it up if you don’t believe me. And yes, cucumbers are great. While some may say they are just unpickled pickles, bland, too watery (they’re 95 percent water), they actually have the perfect crunch to every bite — in a sandwich, in a salad, just on their own. They’re the true watermelons of the (faux) vegetable world.

1. Lingonberries

Lingonberries are probably most famous for being in Ikea. You know that sauce that comes with your meatballs when you go there just to eat dinner and not to buy furniture? Oh you don’t do that? Well anyway, that stuff is made of lingonberries and it’s 10 times better than cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce feels like it’s only meant to be eaten at Thanksgiving, but you can eat lingonberries in July or August — in fact, that’s when you should eat them because that’s when they’re harvested.

And not only are lingonberries great in savory sauces, they’re great in jams and desserts, too. You can bake lingonberries into cheesecakes, poach pears with them, make lingonberry pie. What’s not to love?

As summer rolls up, wander down to your local supermarkets — a personal favorite is Berkeley Bowl — and buy some berries!

Olivia Jerram is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].

JUNE 14, 2018