Item 1 Panna cotta (cream, gelatin, perhaps sugar)

Item 2 berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)

Stores usually sell panna cotta with the berries on top. Is this just because it is more presentable, or is there a technical reason?

In particular, would the cream go sour if the panna cotta is poured over the berries so that the berries are fully buried inside? Are berries acidic enough for this to happen?

Reasons for putting the berries inside? There are at least two:

  1. Nudge kids to eat the fruits. "You want the nice cream; you've got to have the berries along with it."
  2. The two flavors mix better, and (imagining) the berries will last a day or two in the fridge without the skin "wilting".
  • Can you make a small test? Drop a couple berries in a small cup and then compare. In my opinion they will water the pannacotta but kids might not care about .
    – Alchimista
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 10:07
  • 1
    Berries are quite acidic (thus, we can make jam and process it with the boiling water process safely) but I don't think that really comes into play here, at least with fresh berries (frozen will leak when thawed.) I believe they are typically put on top to make the dish attractive and advertise that it has fruit. But I'd second the "try it and report" approach. On the third hand, I don't recall any issues with trifle going off due to the embedded fruit (even sliced) in a custard cream.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Reporting experimental results.

I hypothesized that frozen berries will fare better than fresh. The reasoning? It will take them a while to thaw if the cream is poured at room temperature and put in the fridge right after. By the time they thaw, the cream would have set.

In practice, it's more complicated. Alchimista's hunch is accurate. The skin of the berries is not as impermeable as one would think (I skipped strawberries, since they're inherently porous).

Perhaps the berries will keep just as well inside as outside; that is not entirely clear. But the cream will not set as well near the surface of the berries as it sets farther away, and soggy panna cotta seems like a candidate for going bad sooner.

All in all, I'd say keeping the berries on top is a better option. Besides, an enhanced presentation is a good attribute for homemade desserts as well.

  • Right what I wanted to say by " water the pannacotta....". :) nice tough negative experiment . A chemist here.
    – Alchimista
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 14:47

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