When you're shopping for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or other berries at a farmers' market or produce stand, you may have the option to buy them by the flat. If you need a bunch of berries for jam or pies, it's usually cheaper to buy a flat of berries than to buy individual baskets. But how much comes in a flat? Will it be enough for your recipe? Here's the scoop.
A Flat of Berries
A fresh market flat of berries, sometimes referred to as a tray or crate, contains 12-pint baskets (or hallocks) of berries. Each of the 12 small baskets that make up a flat typically contains enough berries for 2 to 2.5 cups of sliced berries or 1.25 to 1.5 cups of pureed or mashed berries.
If you'll be using your berries to make jam, expect to get 15 to 18 cups of pureed (crushed) berries out of a single flat of strawberries. If you'll be using the berries to make a pie, expect to get four to six pies from your flat of berries (assuming that you'll be using 2 to 4 pints of berries per pie).
When you buy a flat from a farmers' market or u-pick farm, it's usually just a cardboard box with room for 12-pint baskets. In some cases, it may just be a cardboard tray with loose berries.
A commercial flat of strawberries is often referred to as a crate. They're typically made of plastic and don't have removable baskets. When filled, they can weigh as much as 20 pounds. Pickers often de-cap each strawberry when picking for commercial flats. These are sent to the cannery, where they can be processed for frozen berries, jam, or puree.
Number of Strawberries in a Flat
The number of berries in each basket depends on the size of the berries. Each basket typically holds around 12 large strawberries, 24 medium berries or 36 small berries. This means a flat normally holds around 144 large strawberries, 288 medium berries or 432 small berries.
What You Can Do with a Flat of Berries
If you're buying a full flat of berries, you'll want to use them quickly (generally within one to two days of purchase). Ripe berries tend to deteriorate fast. Only buy a full flat if you'll have time to use them or preserve them immediately. Otherwise, stick to buying them one basket at a time. Not sure that you're ready for a full flat? Ask if you can buy a half flat, and if you need more, you can always consider buying a bushel.