We’ve all been there: You reach for that container of blackberries and somehow they went from perfectly juicy to moldy overnight. Not only did you just miss out on delicious berries, but you’re also throwing money down the drain.
Luckily, we’ve got a couple tried-and-true tips for extending the life of whatever berries you’ve got. For starters, proper storage will help your blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries last for at least a week, if not longer.
Here’s how to get more life out of your fresh berries:
Start With a Soak
First, pick through your berries and remove any moldy ones to keep the others from spoiling. Fill a bowl with water and a splash of vinegar (it kills mold!) and let your berries soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove any floaties, aka dirt, bugs, or leaves, and then drain and rinse under cold water. Carefully pat your berries dry with a paper towel, and then let them air dry for another 10 to 20 minutes. Once completely dry, you can move on to storage.
Then Store ’Em Right
When it comes to berries, moisture is the enemy. It contributes to mold, so you want to ensure your fresh berries stay dry as can be. Store the dry berries with a dry paper towel in any open container, such as a plastic bag (unzipped and unclosed), or in a glass or plastic container without a lid. This promotes airflow that’ll keep your berries fresh, while the paper towel will absorb any unwanted moisture.
And if your berries are on their last legs? Try:
Wash and dry mixed berries, removing any stems and leaves. Place berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze overnight. The next day, put berries in a freezer-safe bag, removing all of the air. Frozen berries should last for up to a year in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, toss frozen berries in smoothies in place of ice or thaw them in a saucepan with sugar and citrus for a quick homemade berry sauce.
Keep reading: How to Freeze Produce
If you cook your berries with a touch of sugar and a splash of lemon juice, you’ll be left with quick homemade preserves. Add a bit more liquid (water, juice, wine, etc.!) and you’ll be left with a quick dressing or sweet sauce. (Our chef-in-residence Bobby Flay likes serving his roasted berries over ricotta with lots of fresh mint.)
Keep reading: Our Universal Roasting Guide for Fruit
Berries are always a welcome addition to baked goods. Muffins, cakes, pancakes, and more are the perfect vessel for sweet berries that might already be a little mushy. Try:
- Blueberry-Lemon Loaf
- Blueberry-Almond Dutch Baby Pancake
- Strawberry Hand Pies
- Custard Toast with Berries
- Raspberry-Ricotta Scones
- No-Flip Cranberry Sauce Pancakes
A homemade shrub is an easy way to use up any wilting fruit like berries, citrus, stone fruit, apples, and more. Once made, it makes for a tart and refreshing drink when served over some bubbly water or in a cocktail. Learn how to make a fruit scrap shrub.
Likewise, past-its-prime fruit is an easy way to jazz up a simple syrup recipe (equal parts sugar to water). Just mix in your berry juice once the sugar dissolves, and you’ll be left with syrupy berry syrup for cocktails, tonics, and more.
Note: If your berries are discolored, have visible mold, or don’t pass the smell (or taste) test, then they might be officially too far gone. Consider those fair game for the compost pile.