One of the most delicious gifts of the spring and summer seasons is an abundance of fresh berries.
Eating handfuls of blueberries has to be one of my favorite things to indulge in on a hot summer day. However, these seasonal treats can be rather fragile and expensive.
If you leave these gems of the fruit world in the refrigerator in an open container, you might notice that they start to shrivel up and lose their firmness rather quickly.
All of a sudden, these become undesirable, and end up in the trash.
Well, today we’re going to share our best tips for storing these precious fruits, so you’ll be able to enjoy them for as long as possible.
Do Not Wash
Rule Number One: do not wash until you plan to consume them!
A lot of times we want to rinse our produce as soon as we get it home, but that shouldn’t be the case with these.
Seasonal berries tend to mold very easily, and the best way to avoid this is by keeping them as dry as possible.
When you do get your delicate fruit home, take it out of the container and look for any that exhibit signs of mold, or that are smashed or soft.
A lot of times, there will be a moldy raspberry or strawberry at the bottom of the container that you totally missed when inspecting your find at the store or market.
Remove any of the moldy or soft specimens from the bunch, as mold tends to spread.
For larger fruit like strawberries, you can wash any soft or moldy specimens, cut away the bad parts, and eat what remains right away.
Transfer to a Bigger Container
Once you remove any that have already started to go bad, line a large lidded plastic container with a paper towel, and place all of the fruit inside.
Be sure to choose a container that is large enough for the job.
You want to give the berries some space to breathe. When they’re smashed up against each other, they tend to spoil quickly.
Finally, place a lid on top and store them in the refrigerator.
Be sure to keep the tops attached if you’re storing strawberries, as that seems to prolong their shelf life as well. I generally avoid storing all types on the top shelf of the refrigerator, where they may freeze.
You may also choose to use the same container for storage if you bought them in a plastic clamshell, and don’t have anything handy that’s slightly bigger to put them in.
This is simple enough to do: Rinse the container out, dry it well, and add a paper towel to the bottom to absorb any excess moisture.
You might have noticed that the container your berries came in already included a pad in the bottom to absorb wetness. Toss this out, and start fresh with a clean paper towel.
Extend Shelf Life with Water and Vinegar
You can also try rinsing your berries in a solution of vinegar and water.
Here’s the ratio to mix up your own at home: 1 part vinegar to 3 parts cool water. White vinegar is the best option when it comes to cleaning produce.
Simply fill a large bowl with the mixture and place your fruit in the bowl. Mix the berries around a little bit and leave to soak for 1-2 minutes, and then dump out the water. Rinse the berries gently in a colander.
Lay them out to air dry on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels for 30-60 minutes, and then store them as stated above. You don’t want to pat them dry if you can avoid it, as this can damage the fruit.
These seasonal fruits usually last 4-7 days in the refrigerator, and this method can add an additional 5 days to their shelf life.
Berries are fragile and can be finicky, but the taste of these when fresh and in season – well, nothing beats it!
Now, if you do find yourself with a basket that is about to go bad, you can always freeze them.
Utilize Your Freezer
When it comes to freezing, you’ll want to wash and dry the berries first.
If you’re freezing blueberries, we suggest placing them flat on a large baking sheet and freezing them like that for 1 hour, and then transferring them to a large zip-top storage bag – otherwise these will stick together, making it nearly impossible to break them apart.
Other types don’t seem to share this problem, so for these you may simply wash, place them in a large plastic storage bag, and freeze.
You will always find a few bags in my freezer, as I love to stock up on them when in season at the farmers market, and then freeze them to enjoy in smoothies throughout the year.
How to use up those berries:
There are so many incredible options for using these brightly hued, fresh seasonal fruits in your cooking! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chia Pudding
- Fruit Compote
- Grain Dishes
- Ice Cream Sundaes
- Iced Tea
- Quick Breads
Store these delicate fruits with care and they’ll last a little longer, and taste just as good as when you first purchased them.
Do you have a go-to berry, one that you love above all the others? Leave a comment below, and let us know which one is your favorite!
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.