How to keep berries from going bad

You know that person in the produce aisle who’s peeking under the blueberry containers and turning over the strawberry containers and peering inside individual raspberries inside their containers before choosing berries to put in her basket? That’s me. (Grocery shopping takes me a while.) I am so bummed if I open up a container of berries at home and find the bottoms moldy! And since I try to only shop for produce once a week, it’s important to start out with berries that are in good shape!

closeup of a person's cupped hands filled with blueberries

Once upon a time I learned that rinsing berries ahead of time caused them to deteriorate—mold, in particular—faster. So, when I got those fresh-as-possible berries home, I would tuck them in the refrigerator and wash them right before using. (I have the sweetest little handmade berry bowl that I bought on Etsy, BTW.) 

While it’s true you don’t want to just rinse berries ahead of time, turns out you can give them a special bath—one that will help them last well beyond their usual eat-by dates! Here’s how:

• When you get home from the market or grocers, pick out any moldy or otherwise less-than-edible berries and toss them.

• Combine 1 cup of white vinegar and 4 cups of water in a large bowl. Place the berries in the bowl and gently swish them around for a couple of minutes. The vinegar will kill any mold spores and bacteria.

• Drain the berries in a colander and rinse them well.

• Pat dry with a clean cloth towel. (Some people like to use a salad spinner for drying, but I don’t have one and think it might be a bit rough on the berries. If you go this route, line the spinner with a paper towel to soften the trip around it for the berries.)

• Line a container with a paper towel (or clean, cut up dishcloths that you reuse). Then place the clean, dry berries in the container with the lid open a bit to let the moisture evaporate. (Don’t store them in airtight containers.) It’s a good idea to store different berries separately, since they ripen (and spoil) at different rates.

• Store in the refrigerator. Change the towel if it gets damp.

If you want to use the basket or plastic clamshell package the produce came in, wash it well with soap and hot water. Then rinse and dry it. Line it with the paper towel (or cloth) and place the clean berries in it. 

BTW, a hot water bath will also kill bacteria. Just 30 seconds in water that’s about 130-140 degrees should do it. 

By taking a little bit of care, you’ll end up with a lot more berry for your buck. 

What’s your favorite berry and how do you keep it fresh longer?

You might also enjoy:

How to clean and store strawberries

How to buy and store avocados

7 things to know about storing milk

Bananas — Getting (and keeping) them just right.

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Tip Sheet for Storing Produce

Tip Sheet for Storing Produce