We are lucky enough to have two giant blueberry bushes in our backyard and usually get over 20 pints per year. Once picked, they look great sitting on the counter in a bowl. However, leaving them there too long might not be the best idea. Over time we have figured out the best way to keep blueberries fresh, so I decided to share that information with you.
Whether picked or purchased, blueberries should be refrigerated as soon as possible and will last 5 to 10 days, depending on the quality of storage. They can be left out at room temperature but for no longer than 1 day. To increase their shelf life, do not wash blueberries until ready to eat them.
The rest of this article will give you tips on how to store blueberries correctly and even give you a helpful trick to extend their shelf life in the fridge.
Properly Storing Blueberries
The main culprits in the spoiling of delicate fruits like blueberries include mold spores and bacteria, which proliferate when moisture is present.
That’s why the main recommendation is not to wash blueberries (or any kind of berries, for that matter) until the moment we are going to use them. That being said, there are several other things we can do to prolong their life at home in good condition.
Freezing and refrigerating blueberries are hands down the best storage options if you want or need to consume them as-is after a long period. If you store them in the fridge, they will keep their original taste and texture for several days, opposed to the freezer, which might make them lose a bit of flavor and vitamins over time.
Can Blueberries Be Stored at Room Temperature?
Blueberries can be stored at room temperature after being freshly picked or purchased. However, only do this if you plan to consume them by the next day.
Also, keep in mind that uncontrolled humidity or shifts in the temperature throughout the day may make them rot even faster. Of course, there is a way to store them at room temperature with little worry: by dehydrating them—more on this storage method below.
How to Store Blueberries in the Fridge
Once your blueberries are completely dry, all that remains is to store them properly. Throw away the original container from the store and choose an airtight container that is well cleaned; even better if it’s flat and wide. If you don’t have any containers like there, here is a good option (Click to see listing) that can be found on Amazon.
Pro Tip: Cover the bottom of the container with a paper towel. This will collect and hold any residual moisture you might have missed. Store it in the fridge, and you’re done.
After more than a week, your precious blueberries will probably still be near perfect. In any case, it’s a good idea to check the inside of the container every few days in case some black sheep has slipped through and remove it before it contaminates the others.
Blueberries are too precious to be thrown away before you can enjoy them.
A “Trick” to Make Blueberries Last Even Longer
As you know, blueberries should generally not be washed unless you are going to consume them immediately. However, to prevent mold and rotting but you can give them a special wash to get rid of bacteria and other elements that can spoil them.
To do this, all you need is a key ingredient that is found in any home pantry: vinegar.
How to wash blueberries in vinegar:
- Remove any twigs, stems, or small leaves and remove any spoiled berries from the store.
- Fill a bowl or soup plate with a mixture of water and vinegar in a 3:1 ratio, for example, three glasses of water and one glass of vinegar.
- Add the fruits and stir with your clean hand gently.
- Once cleaned in the mixture, we have to rinse them well to remove any remaining vinegar aroma.
- Place the berries in a strainer and rinse them well, always gently, under cold water, ensuring that the jet is not too strong.
- Then we must dry them very well since, as we have pointed out, humidity is a great enemy of the fruit. You can arrange a bed of several layers of kitchen paper or a clean absorbent cloth on the work surface or cover with it a wide drainer or strainer.
It is crucial that the blueberries are completely dry and not crushed during this process.
There you go. You will likely have just added a few days to the refrigerated shelf life of your blueberries.
Tips to Maximizing Shelf Life
Here are two tips to help you enhance your chances of having fresh blueberries as long as possible:
1. Thoroughly Check Blueberries Before Buying
Blueberries are very fragile food, as they do not withstand heat, handling, and transport well. For this reason, it is very important to choose whole and bright blueberries when buying them.
Once you get them home, go through them thoroughly. It is advisable to discard soft or dull, or piled-up blueberries, as they can spread whatever is causing the issue to adjacent berries.
Whenever possible, it is recommended that you pick the berries yourself, assuming you have access to an orchard nearby. The best time to pick them is in the morning, as they are more sugary and keep their qualities longer.
2. Do Not Store Blueberries With Vegetables
Compared to other berries, the amount of ethylene is low; so, as surprising as their short shelf life may seem, blueberries are among the most durable berries.
However, this means that the ethylene (an organic compound that naturally ripens vegetables) other fruits and vegetables emit may cause your blueberries to ripen and rot faster.
Also, since it’s not a good idea to wash blueberries to preserve them for longer, mold spores may set on their surface, which will develop quickly and spoil other foods near them. In short, it’s never a good idea to store blueberries exposed among other fruits and vegetables.
Ways to Store Blueberries Long Term
Here are three methods, so that allow you to enjoy blueberries throughout the year:
1. Freeze Them
This is our go-to method since we want to be able to enjoy them over several months. We throw them in an airtight container, unwashed, and put them in the deep freezer.
Blueberries can be frozen, whole or crushed, although it is preferable to freeze the whole fruit, as this will reduce nutritional losses.
Pro Tip: The loss of vitamins can be reduced in crushed blueberries if they are sprinkled with lemon juice before storing. Sugar can also be added to make them last longer.
For ultra-long freezer storage, Blueberries should be frozen in a single layer in an airtight bag. We usually don’t do this, since we know we will be eating them all within a couple of months.
2. Dehydrate Them
Dehydrating blueberries can be a great alternative as you will be able to keep them at room temperature while also keeping most of the flavor intact for a longer time.
Most dehydration methods are simple and can be inexpensive since it can be accomplished with either an oven or a dehydrator.
3. Make Jam
Cooking blueberries with water, sugar, and lemon juice until you obtain a thick, sweet concoction can preserve that delicious taste for up to a year.
You wouldn’t be eating them fresh, and the added sugar might be inconvenient for some diets, but blueberry jam can be used in tons of recipes without impacting much the final result.
Blueberries are real jewels of nature. Beyond their healthy beneficial aspects, they are true natural delicacies that are ripe between late summer and early autumn. I hope this article has helped you optimize your storage methods so you can enjoy fresher berries throughout the year.
Thanks for reading!
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