We Tested All The Tricks For Keeping Berries Fresh & These Are The Best Ones
We've all been there. Wooed by the abundance of glorious, jewel-toned berries at the farmers market or grocery store, we come home to homes filled with fruity goodness—only to find them covered in fuzzy mold just days later. We love berries—they're rich in antioxidants, powerfully anti-inflammatory, and super delicious—but they're also not cheap, making the sacrifice of them to the mold gods that much more devastating.
In the name of avoiding food waste and creating opportunities to actually enjoy as much of the season's bounty as possible, I tested all of the tricks for keeping berries fresh that I could find. Here's what worked and what didn't:
1. Rinse them in vinegar.
A number of websites recommend rinsing berries in vinegar, which kills any residual bacteria that can cause mold to grow. I tested this one with raspberries, filling a bowl with a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar to three parts water, then letting the raspberries soak for 5 minutes before rinsing them and patting them dry. The key to getting this hack to work is to dry the berries really well before repacking them and putting them in the fridge. The first time I tried it, the still slightly wet berries molded even faster (dampness is mold's best friend). The second time, I left the berries out on the counter for a few hours after patting them dry to really eliminate the moisture, and they lasted two days longer than normal in the fridge. P.S.: If you're wondering, there was no lingering vinegar taste; just be sure to rinse the berries well.
2. Line the container with a towel.
While most websites suggest using a paper towel, I went with a small dish towel to be a bit more eco-friendly. I just placed the towel at the bottom of a glass container, then added the berries and closed the top. The idea behind this hack is that the towel absorbs the moisture that's the aforementioned enemy of mold-free berries, but I found it to be fairly ineffective. Most of the berries weren't actually touching the towel, but rather, other berries, and they molded just as quickly as the batch that was towel-free. I could see this hack working if you did a single layer of berries, all resting on the towel, but my Brooklyn apartment's tiny fridge made that an impossibility. If you have a real fridge, a) I'm jealous, and b) this method might be worth a try.
3. Comb through the berries and throw out any squished or moldy ones.
This was one of the easiest methods: Simply go through your berries and eliminate any that have mold or compromised structural integrity. Mold begets more mold, and squished berries are the type of moisture-rich environments that mold loves to thrive in. Simply getting rid of moldy or squished berries (I froze the squished ones to use for smoothies later to avoid food waste) resulted in berries that lasted a day longer than my test berries.
4. Use a produce saver.
I tested the two highest-reviewed ones I could find on Amazon—the OXO produce keeper and the Berry Breeze. The OXO produce keeper combines a colander, container, and a carbon filter to create an optimal berry environment, and it really worked—my berries lasted four to five days longer than the test ones that didn't live in the produce keeper. It is made of plastic, so something to keep in mind when considering your overall eco-footprint.
The Berry Breeze goes in your actual fridge, circulating air that's extra oxygenated to keep everything inside—not just your berries—fresher for longer. This process is safe, according to their website, because it does "not produce measurable levels of activated oxygen (ozone) in the refrigerator because the activated oxygen (ozone) demand of food products in the refrigerator instantly neutralizes any activated oxygen (ozone) produced." It runs on batteries, and takes up quite a bit of space, with the footprint around the size of a head of lettuce (again, a bit tricky in my Brooklyn fridge). It did really work, though, producing results about as good as the OXO, with berries lasting about four days longer than test berries.
5. Of course, if all else fails, you can freeze them.
Whenever I see berries just beginning to go bad, I toss them in my freezer in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan. When they're completely frozen, I transfer them to a Stasher bag (this prevents clumping) to use for smoothies, baked goods, and just plain munching long into the winter, when I know there will be a depressing dearth of berries.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.