Here are some tips on choosing and handling berries, as spring ushers in the fresh fruit season:

General reminder: Berries are low in calories, have no fat, but do have lots of vitamin C and dietary fiber.Strawberries: They don't ripen off the vine, so look for bright red berries with green caps.

Blueberries: Those picked earlier in the season are less sweet than those picked late, so it's important to taste them and adjust as necessary the sugar a recipe may call for.

Raspberries: They come in varieties colored black and yellow as well as red. Their high price is due to their fragile nature and the need for careful hand-picking.

Blackberries: They grow wild, they freeze well and can be used for a winter's worth of recipes.

Buying berries: Choose berries that are firm but not too hard, are even in color and shape, have no signs of mold, and have a faint fruity aroma.

Keeping berries fresh: Buy only what you plan to eat in a day or so. Keep them covered and unwashed in the refrigerator.

Freezing: Rinse delicate berries lightly in cold water and pat dry to keep them from crumbling. To freeze, spread across a cookie sheet so they do not clump together.