11 Types of Berries—and What to Do With Them
There’s no fruit that signals the advent of summer quite like berries. Once these sweet and tart fruits, ripened by ample sunshine, come to season, berries populate roadside stands and farmers’ markets and become the stars of various seasonal sweets, such as cobbler, pie, and homemade jam. Of course, their natural juices mean berries are also just as delicious fresh, whether they’re paired with a little cream or accenting a seasonal salad.
Botanically, berries are fleshy and contain numerous seeds on the inside. They may be small, but they’re loaded with nutrients, especially antioxidants, as well as intense flavor. With all the benefits berries have, you’ll want to try them all, so we’ve broken down the 11 most common types of berries with pictures, identified their strengths, and found the best recipes to use them.
Acai berries are native to the Amazon Rainforest and heavily praised for their nutritional benefits, particularly their high antioxidant, fiber, and calcium content. Recently, thanks to their ties to the health craze, they’ve become popular in smoothies and juices as well as in breakfast bowls.
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Tart, sweet blackberries are a favorite in summer desserts, notably jams, cobblers, pies, and crumbles. Fresh blackberries have larger seeds than most of their relatives, and boast high levels of fiber as well as vitamins C and K. Blackberries peak in July and August, and unripe blackberries have a red, rather than green, hue.
Blueberries, one of summer’s best crops, differ in taste and texture based on their size: smaller berries, especially wild ones, are tart and almost crunchy, while larger, cultivated berries are juicy, jammy, and sweet. Blueberries are popular additives to breakfast foods, particularly cereals, muffins, and pancakes, but they’re also common in salads and desserts. Nutritionists favor them as they’re low in calories and possess moderate amounts of antioxidants and fiber.
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Boysenberries are hybrids of five other breeds including European blackberries and raspberries. The dark red-purple fruits are some of the largest berries around and can grow up to 2.5 centimeters long. They’re extremely juicy and therefore popular in desserts and jams.
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Cranberries are known for their puckeringly tart taste and presence on every Thanksgiving table. They’re native to Canada and the Northeastern United States and are cultivated in drainable bogs—when they ripen, cranberries will float, streamlining the harvest. Most cranberries are red: The pink and white varieties are simply unripened, and much more tart.
Also known as wolfberries, goji berries are electrifyingly red and are native to Asia. Traditionally used as food as well as medicine, goji berries, particularly dried berries, have exploded in popularity thanks to mass-marketed wellness.
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Gooseberries have a similar appearance to grapes and are popular in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Ripe gooseberries are typically red, but the fruit is also enjoyed for its tanginess before it ripens. Gooseberries are particularly high in vitamin C and fiber, and they’re often used medicinally for their anti-inflammatory properties.
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Huckleberries seem like bigger, darker blueberries and even have a similar taste. Native to the Northwestern United States and Canada, huckleberries were harvested by Native Americans, who used them both as food and to treat pain and infections. Huckleberry bushes are finicky and the fruit is difficult to harvest, so they’re not as widely available as other berries. Their sweet and tart flavor profile make them a perfect addition to baked goods, drinks, and even barbecue sauce.
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Also known as cowberries, these bright red and puckeringly tart berries are native to taiga and tundra climates in Asia, Europe and North America. They’re popular as jams or preserves, or even served with meat and fish, in First Nations, Nordic, and Baltic cuisine. Like other berries, lingonberries are packed with vitamins as well as potassium and magnesium, and they’re used in folk medicine.
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Raspberries are known for their fuzzy texture and deep red color, but certain species produce purple, black, and even yellow fruit. Like blackberries and strawberries, raspberries are aggregate fruits, and their high seed count makes them one of the most fiber-rich whole foods around. Like other berries, they’re popular in desserts or preserved, but their nutritional value is best reaped fresh.
Unlike other fruits, strawberries display their seeds on the outside of their pinkish-red flesh, meaning that they’re not botanically berries (The botanical term “berry” refers to fleshy fruits with interior seeds). Strawberries are a hybrid fruit and peak from April to June. They’re extremely popular in desserts, especially when paired with sugar or cream.