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I eagerly stalk the farmer’s market each spring, looking for the first sign of strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Once berry season arrives, I’m a woman on a mission, snatching up berries at every sight. Strawberries? Yes, I believe I need 10lbs of strawberries. Blueberries? Come to mama, my sweeties. But there’s one big problem, all of those berries can quickly rot and develop mold if left alone. The worst, right?! Well, I’ve found an easy trick to how to keep berries fresh and mold free all week. Let me show you how I wash and store berries.
Soak berries in a water/vinegar bath. Whenever I suggest this, I’m usually met with some resistance, “But I don’t want my berries to taste like vinegar!” I promise your berries will not taste like vinegar. The vinegar doesn’t change the flavor of the strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries in anyway. The vinegar kills any mold spores on the berries which then keeps mold from overtaking the berries prematurely. Now, of course, if you keep the berries in your fridge for a couple of weeks, mold is going to set in. This is a REAL food and that’s what happens. The vinegar just keeps mold from growing too quickly or prematurely.
Store berries in a paper towel lined container. Have you noticed that an absorbent pad is placed at the bottom of blackberry and raspberry containers? Well, we’re using this same concept now to store washed berries at home. The reason we use a paper towel is because too much moisture build up on your berries will cause them to rot prematurely. Before placing your washed berries in the container, make sure they’re fully dry. Then place the berries in the container, on top of the paper towel, place a lid on the container and store in the fridge. I know some folks have issue with the paper towel suggestion, so if you’d like to use a towel instead you’re welcome to do so.
Now, let’s take those berries out of the little green basket, because it’s time to take a dip with a step-by-step guide to how to wash and store berries, keeping those berries fresh longer.
Tools You’ll Need
Step 1: Prepare a Vinegar/Water Bath
In a large bowl (I use a salad spinner) or sink, add 3 cups of water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Add as much water and vinegar as needed to cover the berries.
Step 2: Soak the Berries
Add the berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries) to the water and vinegar bath and soak for about 5-10 minutes in the vinegar bath.
Step 3: Rinse and Dry the Berries
Remove the berries, rinse with fresh water, and dry on a towel on the counter. The drying process may take several hours, depending on how many berries you have.
Why use a salad spinner? I find using a salad spinner is easy to use than a bowl because you can put the berries in the basket portion, fill the salad spinner with the water and vinegar mixture, and then when you’re done soaking just pick up the basket to drain and rinse the berries under fresh water. The salad spinner is not used for the drying aspect in this case, just for the easy to use nature of soaking and draining and rinsing. For this method, you don’t need the lid for the salad spinner (since we’re not drying the berries in the salad spinner), just the bowl and basket that comes with the salad spinner.
Step 4: Properly Store the Berries
Once dry, store the berries in a towel lined container with a lid. Place the container in the fridge. Consume the berries within a week. This formula only works for strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Raspberries are far too delicate to soak in water and vinegar. Just know that you’ll want to eat raspberries fairly quickly and keep the berries in their original container. The one exception to this is if the raspberries are from the farmer’s market and don’t come in the pad-lined case. In this case, place the unwashed raspberries in a paper towel lined container.
If you really can’t stand vinegar and prefer not to use it for washing berries, here’s what I recommend…
- Skip the vinegar bath and don’t wash the berries in advance. Instead, wash just a few berries under water before consuming.
- Store the unwashed berries in a paper towel lined storage container with a lid. The paper towel will absorb the moisture that naturally builds on the berries throughout the week. This moisture can cause the berries to grow mold and rot prematurely. Before adding the berries to the container, make sure the berries are fully dry (this shouldn’t be an issue if you bought the berries at the grocery store, but if they are freshly picked or from the farmer’s market there may be moisture on the berries).
How to Keep Berries Fresh and Mold Free
My secret to keeping strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries fresh and mold free.
white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl (I use a salad spinner) or sink, add 3 cups of water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Let the berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries) soak for about 5-10 minutes in the vinegar bath. Remove the berries, rinse with freshwater, and dry on a towel on the counter. Once dry, store the berries in a paper towel-lined container with a lid.