Learn how to buy, wash, store, and freeze blueberries to increase their shelf-life. Also, learn how to tell if your berries are bad and other helpful tips.
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If you’ve ever wondered how long blueberries last, I’ve got you covered.
Here at our house, we eat blueberries year-round. We eat them in smoothies and juices, we use them for pan sauces, syrups, and desserts. Yes, we make lots of blueberry baked goods. In fact, the combination of lemon and blueberry is my hubby’s favorite.
In this article, we’ll discuss the shelf life of blueberries as well as how to buy, wash, store, and freeze them. We’ll also talk about how to tell if fresh blueberries have gone bad. And we’ll answer a few related questions as well. You know, the frequently asked ones! So let’s get started!
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How Long Are Blueberries Good For?
Blueberries are highly perishable and can technically be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Freshly picked and store-bought fresh blueberries last anywhere from 1 to 14 days depending on how fresh they were when you bought them and how you store them at home. Here’s what you need to know to maximize their shelf-life.
How Long Do Blueberries Last Out Of The Fridge?
If freshly picked and stored at room temperature, blueberries will last up to 2 or 3 days. But if you live in a hot, humid climate, you’ll be lucky if your blueberries last longer than 1 or 2 days stored at room temperature.
Even though you can technically store blueberries at room temperature for a few days, it is best to refrigerate blueberries. Here’s why.
How Long Do Blueberries Last In The Refrigerator?
When properly stored in the fridge, blueberries can often last 7 to 14 days.
How Do You Keep Blueberries Fresh In The Refrigerator?
As we talked about before, how long your blueberries last depend on how fresh they were when you bought them and whether or not you refrigerated them properly.
The best way to store blueberries is in the fridge in the container they came in, lined with a folded paper towel.
Before we discuss the steps needed to prepare your blueberries for storage, let’s talk about eating out-of-date berries.
Is It Ok To Eat Out Of Date Blueberries?
I have been grocery shopping for over 37 years and I don’t ever remember seeing blueberries with a sell-by, best-by, or use-by date. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but here in my neck of the woods, I’ve never seen them.
Just remember…when consuming berries, it is safer and more cost-effective to discard any and all berries that have gone bad.
A trip to the doctor is way more expensive than a new clamshell of blueberries!
Next, let’s tackle a frequently asked question…
What Is The White Stuff On Blueberries?
If you’ve ever purchased blueberries that look like they have a greyish, white coating on them, don’t worry. It’s actually a good sign! Why you might ask?
Well, this natural coating on blueberries is called “bloom” and for you brainy types, scientists refer to it as epicuticular wax.
The epicuticular wax or bloom serves to protect the blueberries from bacteria and is a sign of freshness.
Now that we know the bloom is good, let’s talk about how you can tell if your blueberries have gone bad.
How Can You Tell If Blueberries Have Gone Bad?
As we discussed, the bloom is good and is a sign of freshness but that does NOT mean your container doesn’t have any spoiled blueberries.
The first thing you need to do when you get your berries home is to carefully inspect your blueberries and remove the following:
- Stems and other debris
- Shriveled or cracked berries
- Berries with visible signs of mold or fuzz, especially around the stem area
- Soft, mushy, or blemished berries
- Underripe and immature fruit
- Off-colored berries (other blueberries that don’t have a deep blue color)
Please remember that if you find a blueberry is leaking its juices from a crack or blemish, it is likely overripe and on the verge of going bad. I would discard these even if they still look plump because bacteria could enter the berry through the cracks.
Also, be sure to handle your blueberries gently so you don’t damage them!
Once you’ve removed all the stems, debris, and bad blueberries, you’re ready to store them in the fridge.
Before we look at how to store blueberries in the fridge, let’s talk about eating bad berries.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Blueberries?
When blueberries go bad, they don’t taste good. They lose nutrients. And they get moldy.
For most people, nothing bad will happen if they eat a bad blueberry.
But some people have mold allergies and others are more sensitive to various bacteria, pesticides, and toxins.
You should always err on the side of caution and never eat any blueberry that appears to have gone bad. As I said before, throwing away a clamshell of blueberries is less expensive than a trip to the emergency room or doctor!
If you suspect your blueberries have gone bad, don’t eat them. Throw them out.
How Do You Keep Blueberries From Getting Moldy?
Just to reiterate, to help extend the shelf life of blueberries and help them stay fresh, you need to properly store the berries.
They should be stored in the fridge in a breathable container. You should store your blueberries on top of a folded paper towel in their original clamshell or another open container. This will allow air circulation and deter mold from forming. Do not store them in airtight containers as this prevents property air circulation.
Do You Need To Wash Blueberries?
Yes, you should always wash your blueberries but only when they are ready to be eaten or if you are preparing them for storage with a vinegar-based solution.
Eating unwashed blueberries can expose you to dirt and toxins that may have been in the soil where they were grown as well as other bacteria from the packaging and shipping process.
With that said, I avoid rinsing my blueberries until they are ready to be consumed.
This is because the actual washing process can cause damage to the delicate blueberries. Once damaged, your blueberries will deteriorate more rapidly.
Also, the exposure to excess moisture caused by the rinsing process also contributes to faster spoilage.
I will, however, ever so carefully remove any stems, debris, discolored, cracked, or moldy berries as soon as I bring them home.
With that said, there may be times when you want to wash your berries right away. And that’s ok. Here’s what you need to know.
How Do You Wash Berries Before Eating?
Vinegar has been reported to help prevent mold growth.
If you prefer to wash your berries before eating or storage, mix together a vinegar-water solution consisting of 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups of cool water. If you have just a few berries to wash, it’s ok to use less of the solution. Just be sure to use a 1:4 ratio.
For example, if you use ⅓ cup of vinegar, use (4) ⅓ cups or 1 ⅓ cup of water. Or, for a larger amount, use 2 cups of vinegar to 8 cups of cold water.
You can use distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I prefer to use distilled white vinegar because I use apple cider vinegar in more recipes than distilled vinegar.
Items You Need:
- Bowl or Pot large enough for your colander to fit into (I use these ALL THE TIME)
- Colander (strainer)
- Baking Sheet
- Paper Towels
Steps To Take
Step One: Carefully remove any stems, debris, and damaged berries as described above.
Step Two: In your bowl, combine vinegar and water in a 1:4 ratio as previously discussed.
Step Three: Carefully place your berries into the strainer. Then dip your strainer and blueberries into the vinegar-water mixture.
Step Four: Very gently, move the berries around in the strainer for a minute or so.
Step Five: Lift the strainer out of the bowl and rinse the berries with cold water. Once again, gently move the berries around to ensure all the vinegar-water solution is removed.
Step Six: Carefully transfer the berries from the strainer onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Make sure the berries are in a single layer.
Step Seven: Thoroughly dry off your berries. They are now ready for storage using one of the methods discussed next.
How To Store Blueberries In The Refrigerator
Step One: Spread your blueberries out onto a baking sheet. Then carefully remove all stems, debris, moldy, crushed, cracked, soft, mushy, leaking berries.
Step Two (optional): Wash your berries in a vinegar-water bath and dry thoroughly.
Step Three: Put the remaining berries back into their clamshell lined with a folded paper towel.
Step Four: Place berries in the fridge.
If you’re not storing blueberries in their original packaging, here’s the method you need to follow.
Step One: Gently spread your berries out onto a baking sheet. Then, carefully remove all stems, debris, moldy, crushed, cracked, soft, mushy, or leaking berries.
Step Two (optional): Wash your berries in a vinegar-water bath and dry thoroughly.
Step Three: Place a double layer of paper towels into the bottom of a storage container. Then add your berries.
Step Four: Place the berries uncovered in the fridge.
The key point about storing blueberries is that you must wash and dry your berries then store them in a breathable container on top of a folded paper towel which will absorb moisture while allowing air to circulate.
Should I Store Blueberries In The Crisper Drawer?
There are two camps of thought on this one. Some insist on storing berries ONLY in the crisper drawer while others say only store berries in the coldest part of the fridge.
Here’s my take on it. In my fridge, I have stored berries in both the crisper drawer and the fridge.
Guess what? I can’t see a major difference in deterioration rates.
If you’re not sure which would work best for you, experiment with your fridge. Prepare some berries from the same container then store half in the coldest part of the fridge and half in the crisper drawer. See what happens. Then, let me know! I’d love to pass along the results to others!
What Can I Do With Old Blueberries?
Old blueberries are just that. Old.
Old blueberries are not the same as ones that have spoiled due to mold.
If you have blueberries that are old but are still edible, you need to use them asap or freeze them. Yes, you can freeze overripe blueberries. Just be sure to manage your expectations.
Once thawed, overripe blueberries should be consumed or cooked the same day or the next day at the latest.
You can use old whole blueberries to make a blueberry pie, jam, ice cream, or chutney.
Should You Wash Frozen Blueberries Before Eating?
That depends. Commercially frozen blueberries are prewashed. There is no need to wash again.
However, if your berries were handpicked, store-bought when fresh, or purchased from a farmer’s market, always err on the side of caution and wash them.
How To Freeze Blueberries
If you love local, fresh berries then you should stock your freezer berries during berry season! Freezing blueberries is simple and if done properly, you will have blueberries year-round.
When freezing blueberries, you have several options. One allows for the greatest versatility but requires more time. The other option is the quickest but makes the berries more difficult to use once thawed.
Freezer Technique #1 (Allows for greatest versatility)
Step #1: Carefully remove all stems and debris along with any bruised, cracked, or moldy blueberries.
Step #2: Wash the berries and dry thoroughly.
Step #3: Transfer berries onto a single-layer tray lined with parchment paper. Use a rimmed baking sheet or a cookie tray.
Step #4: Put them in your freezer and flash freeze for an hour or so.
Step #5: Move the flash-frozen blueberries into a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag or an airtight container.
Step #6: If using a resealable bag, squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and seal.
Step #7: Label the bag with the date frozen.
Freezer Technique #2 (Quickest and results in less versatility)
Step #1: Carefully remove all blueberries with existing mold and any that are bruised or cracked. Also, remove any stems and debris.
Step #2: Wash the berries and dry thoroughly.
Step #3: Place the completely dry blueberries in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container.
Step #4: Remove as much air as possible and seal.
Step #5: Label the bag or container with the date frozen and place them into the freezer.
While Technique #2 is quicker, I prefer flash-freezing my berries using Technique #1. Flash-freezing your berries ensures they won’t stick to each other once frozen so you can easily remove the exact amount you want, without having to thaw all of them first.
If you have the time, I highly recommend you flash freeze your berries.
How Long Do Blueberries Last In The Freezer?
When stored properly, blueberries will last up to 12 months in the freezer but for the best quality use within 8 to 10 months!
Final Thoughts From Cost-Effective Kitchen
When dealing with blueberries remember these tips to keep them fresh as long as possible:
- Handle them with care as they are delicate
- Remove all stems, debris, overripe, and damaged fruit before storing
- Store them in the fridge in a breathable container with paper towels
- Never store blueberries at room temperature (unless you’re consuming them the same day)
- Use frozen berries within 12 months (8 to 1o for optimal quality)
Until next time…