By Vanessa Greaves

Some berry good advice

Fresh berries have two major enemies: mold and moisture. Here's how to fight them off in two easy steps so you can enjoy your berries longer with far less wastage. Money saved!

Photo by Vanessa Greaves

Why Fresh Berries Go Bad

Everyone says you shouldn't wash berries until just before you eat them because moisture shortens their shelf life. But the truth is, berries carry mold spores that cause them to go bad very quickly. And that mold can spread through a whole basket of berries in a flash. Good news: You can easily kill off mold and bacteria with a quick vinegar and water bath, then dry off the berries before they go in the fridge. Here's how to do it.

What to Know Before You Start

  • This method works best for firm berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
  • Fragile raspberries should get the classic "rinse right before eating" treatment with just plain water.
  • The vinegar bath won't "cure" very moldy berries; it's best to pick those out and discard them right away.
  • Berries that are super-ripe to begin with should be eaten within a couple of days.

Step 1. Vinegar Bath to Kill Mold

Discarding any berries that show even a bit of mold. Combine 3 cups cold water and 1 cup white vinegar in a large bowl or salad spinner.

Preparing a water and vinegar bath for fresh berries.

Immerse berries and swish around for about a minute.

Drain berries, then rinse with clean, cold water until any trace of vinegar aroma or taste is gone.

Spread out rinsed berries on clean cloth or paper towels, and pat and roll lightly with towels to dry them well.

Step 2. How to Store Berries

If your berries came in a ventilated plastic clamshell-type package, wash it with soap and hot water, rinse and dry, then line it with a dry paper towel. Put the clean, dry berries back in the clamshell and store them in the fridge. Make sure to leave ventilation holes in the top uncovered so air can circulate in the package. Otherwise, store the berries in a clean container lined with paper towels, with the lid ajar so condensation can evaporate. Change the paper towels if they get damp over time.

When I was researching this kitchen tip, I read where people were worried about the berries tasting like vinegar after their bath. I can tell you from experience that they don't. I used plain white vinegar and didn't let the berries sit in the bath for more than a couple of minutes. It didn't take much rinsing before I couldn't smell even a hint of vinegar, and I never tasted any.

Speaking of Berries...

• Try these easy blueberry desserts, and find out why you should eat even more blueberries.
• You'll love these beautiful cakes made with fresh strawberries, or try these deceptively easy strawberry desserts.
• Take your pick of our top-rated berry recipes.

All photos by Vanessa Greaves

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