Knowing how to make berries last longer will help you get the most out of these delicious but often pricey sweet treats.
Berries are expensive at the store any time of year, which makes it all the more frustrating when they spoil just a day or two later.
Fortunately, there is a simple, inexpensive way to make berries last longer — up to two weeks!
Why Do Berries Go Bad so Quickly?
In the wild, berry season is surprisingly short. Some varieties, like boysenberries, are only in season for two short months in May and June.
They’re Shipped from Overseas
Most of us think of berries as summer fruits, so we expect them to be available well into mid-autumn. To meet consumer demand, supermarkets import them from regions and countries where the growing season is longer.
With their soft-skins and juicy bodies, berries don’t ship well. They bruise easily and release their juices during transport in their sealed plastic clamshell or cardboard boxes.
Mold Loves Them
Mold, which favors a warm and damp environment, quickly begins to grow — especially on those at the bottom center of the container. You know, the ones you don’t see when you’re trying to find a package that are all in good shape.
That saying about it takes only one bad apple to spoil the bunch? It’s true about berries, too. Once one bruised strawberry or blueberry leaks juice that gets colonized by mold spores, the rest of the carton will go bad quickly, too.
How To Make Berries Last Longer
Buy in Season
As with most produce, berries are best when purchased in season. That’s when your supermarket looks to local suppliers, meaning your berries are fresh and haven’t been jostled around during a long transport.
In the U.S., berry season varies by region.
- Along the West Coast, and in the South and Southeast, fresh berries are available in gardens, stores, and Farmer’s Markets from May through mid-October.
- In the Midwest, berry season also starts in May but usually ends around mid-September.
- Those on the East Coast face an even shorter season: typically mid-June through late September.
To find out when they’re in season in your area, check with your local Farmer’s Market or use an online seasonal food guide.
Wash Berries Properly
Ordinarily, you should hold off washing produce until just before using it. (See this guide on how to store produce for other fruit and vegetable tips.) Berries and melons are exceptions to that rule.
Washing berries in a mold-inhibiting bath as soon as you bring them home from the store prolongs their lifespan. Here’s what to use.
Homemade Berry Wash
You will need:
- Distilled white vinegar (not apple cider vinegar)
- A clean sink or large bowl
- Mix one cup white distilled vinegar and five cups cool water in a clean bowl.
- Soak the berries in the vinegar bath for 5 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon.
- Let them dry them on paper towels.
- Dunk their container in the vinegar water for 5 minutes to kill lingering mold spores. Be sure to toss out any padding that came in the container then line the bottom with a clean paper towel.
- Once the berries are thoroughly dry, return them to the container and store them in the fridge.
- Change the paper towel every day or two, and your berries will stay fresh up to two weeks.
Tips to Save and Use Them
Berries freeze well! Place them on a baking sheet so they’re not touching, freeze then transfer them to a resealable bag.
Frozen berries are great in smoothies and shakes, or you can pop them into a glass of wine or cocktail to keep it chilled. Here are some more great ways to use berries, too.
You still don’t need to throw berries away if they begin turning soft before you can use them. Turn them into homemade fruit roll-ups for a healthy, kid-pleasing snack.
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