Berry Month

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor

July is National Berry Month. MyPlate reminds us that all food and beverage choices matter.  Eating foods such as berries, instead of other higher calorie foods, may help lower overall calorie intake. Additional nutritional benefits include:

  • Berries are filled with vitamins and minerals, many of which are classified as antioxidants.
  • Antioxidants, help protect your cells from damage. Antioxidants help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
  • They are also good sources of vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and manganese and potassium.
  • Berries are high in fiber. Consuming foods high in fiber helps provide the feeling of fullness, lower cholesterol levels and promote gut health.

Not only are berries good for our bodies but they’re also good for brain health. The antioxidants in berries help protect brain cells from damage and improve brain function. Berries can help increase blood flow to the brain and it helps improve memory and attention to tasks. Regularly eating berries along with other fruits and vegetables will keep the protective compounds in your body.

One positive thing about berries is that they taste great on their own. Other easy ways to add them to the diet are to add them to cereal or a smoothie. They can also be added to side salads or used for dessert. To get all the best benefits of these low-calorie options, make sure to limit adding sugar or high-fat products like pie crush or whipped topping.

In July, we have many options for fresh berries. Look for sales at the grocery store or find local berries at farm markets or farm stands. Another option is to look for a local pick your own option at a farm. Fresh berries do have a short shelf life. Refrigerate fresh berries until ready to use them. Do not wash them until it’s time to serve. Then wash them using cool, running water. If it’s easier to enjoy frozen or dried berries, you will still get nutritional benefits.

Here are a few tips for freezing berries and using frozen berries in easy recipes.

  • To freeze fresh berries (see note below about blueberries): wash, drain well and pat dry with a clean towel. Use a baking sheet and freeze a single layer of berries. If you’d like to put a piece of wax paper down, it makes it easier to remove them from the baking sheet. Once the berries are frozen firm, take them off the baking sheet and put them in freezer bags or containers. The advantage of freezing them first in a single layer is that they are not all frozen together and you can pour out what you need instead of having to use an entire freezer container at once.
  • Note on blueberries: blueberries are the one berry where it is recommended to not wash before freezing. Although this sounds unusual, it can make the skin of the blueberries much tougher. When ready to use the frozen blueberries, wash them under cold running water before eating.
  • When making pancakes or waffles, pour the batter on the griddle or waffle iron and then add blueberries. This will make it easier to flip and will look nicer. If frozen blueberries are used, it will take a little longer to cook.
  • You can add whole frozen berries to other baked goods. Gently fold the frozen berries into cakes, pies, and muffins just prior to baking.

This berry dessert can use any favorite berries (fresh or frozen) or a mixture of berries and it comes from California Polytechnic State University. It serves six people.

Berry Crumble Dessert


  • 3 cups blueberries, raspberries or blackberries (or 16 ounces frozen berries)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spread berries in a greased 8”x8” baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
  4. Mix remaining ingredients and sprinkle over berries.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
  6. Serve warm, topped with vanilla frozen yogurt, if desired.

Interested in learning more about preserving your own food with canning, freezing and drying? OSU Extension, Lucas County is offering an in-person class. Join us on Thursday, July 11th, 3:00pm at 815 Front Street, Glass Center (in front of Glass City Metropark) to discuss and decide what home food preservation method is best for you! This session will focus on food safety, fresh produce, and resources for up-to-date food preservation in your kitchen. It is free but please reserve your spot: or call 419-574-0983. This lesson is part of the 2024 once a month program at the new Glass City Enrichment Center. OSU Extension offers different topics on the second Thursday of each month.

Information from Iowa State University Extension, University of Maine Extension, Nebraska Extension, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.