How to Store Blueberries the Right Way
Packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and all-round delicious goodness, blueberries really are a superfood and taste fantastic, whether that’s on your porridge, in a pie or part of a fresh fruit salad. So, if you do have a pack of these juicy blue gems, you’ll want to keep them fresh and nutritious for as long as you can.
Blueberries have two enemies – moisture and mold – and incorrect storage of your leftover blueberries will most likely see them go mushy and moldy before you get the chance to finish them off. We take a look at the do’s and don’ts when it comes to how to store blueberries the right way so you can extend their shelf life.
What You Need to Know About the Blueberry
All berries can be delicate, but with their protective skin, which is more resistant to moisture, blueberries are the hardiest of the bunch and, compared to the likes of raspberries and strawberries, are the slowest to deteriorate. Blueberries are described as climacteric, which means they continue to ripen after harvesting, and as they do, they change oxygen to carbon dioxide, eventually switching their ripening to going off.
The fruit also has a natural protective coating which is a waxy, cloudy white covering on the skin, known as bloom which helps to preserve blueberries. This bloom helps to protect the berry from bacteria and bugs and also has some waterproofing as well as non-stick properties.
Prepping Blueberries for Storing
The way you prepare your blueberries is going to make all the difference when it comes to storing them for later use, and this includes the container you store them in. You will need a decent sized container to put them into, so that they have a little more space and room to ‘breathe’. Before putting them in a container, you will need to sort out any moldy blueberries, so you are only storing fresh and clean fruit. Remember, your blueberries will have a natural white-ish covering known as bloom and that’s OK, but what you don’t want are berries with white fuzzy mold, fruit with the skin broken or have started to go mushy. Look for signs of mold around the stem area, and then remove any stalks that may still be in place as these will taste bitter if you eat them.
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Don’t Wash Unless You Need To
So that the blueberries naturally protective bloom stays in place, it is advisable not to wash your fruit until just before you are about to eat them, so only rinse your blueberries before storing if they are dirty. If you do need to rinse, then ensure you thoroughly dry all the fruit before you freeze or refrigerate blueberries to prevent the fruit from sticking together or speeding up any deterioration. A good way to dry your delicate little blueberries is to line a baking tray with an absorbent paper towel and spread the fruit over the top, then pat and roll the berries with another piece of paper towel. When it comes to how to keep blueberries fresh, thorough drying before storing is key.
Use Vinegar If Mold Is a Problem
As you are sorting through your blueberries and you find a quantity that have already started to go moldy, it is a good idea to treat the rest of the berries to remove any mold spores that may have been left behind which can spread through the pack. A quick and easy way to kill off any mold and bacteria before storing is to remove all moldy fruit and then give the remaining blueberries a vinegar bath. Simply put three cups of cold water and one cup of white vinegar into a bowl and immerse your blueberries, then swish them around for about a minute. Using a colander, drain the berries then rinse with fresh cold water to remove any traces of vinegar from the fruit, before drying thoroughly on paper towels.
Should Blueberries Be Refrigerated?
Storing your clean and dry blueberries in the fridge is going to add five to 10 days to their shelf life but how you store them and where in the refrigerator is important. Ensure you choose a large enough container for all your fruit to spread out and avoid being squashed up against each other, as that can lead to spoiling. Avoid a metal container as this can react with the blueberries’ skin and discolor and make sure the container has some ventilation, ideally in the lid. Now fold up some paper towel and place it in the bottom of the container, gently pour in your fruit and put on the lid.
Don’t store your blueberries in the crisper drawer as they need to have air circulating to stay nice and fresh and avoid putting them in the coldest part of your fridge, which is usually the top shelf. Instead, pop the container on the middle or bottom shelf and they should stay tasty and fresh for about a week.
Freeze to Extend Blueberry Lifespan
Freezing your blueberries means you can keep them fresh and tasty for around six months, possibly up to a year but again correct storage is key and there is a two-step process to get the best out of your fruit. First spread out your dry berries on a lined baking sheet so they are in a single layer then lay the tray flat in your freezer, so they all freeze as single blueberries. Once frozen, pour the solid berries into a resealable freezer bag and close. Freezing the berries individually first means they will not stick together in the freezer bag and will tip out easily when you are ready to use them.
Rinse to Thaw
When you are ready to eat your frozen blueberries, simply take them out of the freezer and let them gently defrost in the fridge, and they will soon be ready to bake with, add to your porridge or simply eat straight.
Or you can add a cool twist to your morning smoothie or yogurt, without needing to thaw them fully. Just add your frozen blueberries to a bowl of room temperature water and leave for around five minutes before draining and drying. Now add direct to your smoothie, blend – and enjoy!
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- Let’s Preserve: Blueberries – Penn State Extension
- Michigan Fresh:Using, Storing, and Preserving Blueberries (HNI21) – Michigan State University