4 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Prepping Berries

Believe it or not, there's a right and a wrong way to do these things.

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Berries are some of the most versatile fruits: you can make them into smoothies, pie fillings and delicious dessert toppers alike. But they do require a little more love and care than most people think, especially during prep. While making a Roasted Mixed Berry Compote in a class on the Food Network Kitchen app, The Kitchen host Geoffrey Zakarian talked about four common prep mistakes that can seriously hurt your berry dish.

You’re Not Shopping for Quality Above All Else

"I've always been a proponent of getting the very best you can buy on the market,” he says. “It really doesn't matter what kind of berries you use. These are the berries we found that are the best right now." Next time you’re walking through the fresh produce aisle or scoping out your local farmer’s market, keep an open mind about the variety you’re shopping for. Pick up the very best you can find and afford, whatever that means on that particular day.

You’re Not Removing the Stems Before Washing Strawberries

It’s well-known that washing produce is an important step during the prepping process, but what some people don’t know is that washing strawberries with the stems still on can actually make your berry dirtier. "When you wash them [with the green on], sometimes you're dislodging the dirt and it goes all over the berry,” says Geoffrey. His solution is simple, as he explains, “Start by taking the green off first and then we're gonna wash the berries all together."

You’re Washing Your Berries Too Soon

When you wash your berries also makes a big difference. Adding moisture to berries decreases their shelf life and can negatively impact how your dish turns out, GZ says. "I don't wash them until the very end, before I'm gonna use them, simply because I don't want to add any additional water to the berries because water really ruins berries." Geoffrey suggests spreading your berries out on a sheet pan lined with a paper towel and patting them dry to ensure that they are as dry as possible. “If you’re gonna serve berries without cooking them, you want to make sure they’re really dry,” he adds. However, if you’re planning on roasting your berries as Geoffrey does in his compote recipe, a little water won’t affect them too much since the excess moisture will be dried out in the oven.

Your Berries Aren’t the Same Size

After you’ve washed and dried your berries, you should make sure you don’t have any that are too big in size. “If you see a berry that’s too big, cut it in half,” explains Geoffrey. Ensuring that your berries are uniform in size will not only produce a more even cook when roasting but will elevate the presentation of your dish.

To watch Geoffrey's full roasted mixed berry compote class, make sure you download the Food Network Kitchen app and sign up today! Plus, don't miss new episodes of The Kitchen Saturdays at 11a|10c.

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