A ripe blueberry is the bee’s knees: Firm, plump and full of tart-sweet flavor that promises to wake up your palate and satisfy your stomach. Packed with antioxidants and low in calories, this nutrient-rich fruit is so tasty that we can put away an entire pint of these little gems in less than a minute...when they’re at their best, that is. Regrettably, our blueberries are occasionally less than superb—namely when they grow mold and get sloppy before we can get to them. Nature’s candy should always be savored in its prime and that’s totally doable as long as you know how to store blueberries properly. Curious? Read on for the intel that will keep your berries happy.
How to Store Blueberries
It’s not hard to make short work of a bunch of blueberries, but sometimes they spoil in a surprisingly short amount of time. Follow these steps for at least a full week of freshness, which is basically a guarantee that you’ll never have to watch good berries go to waste again.
1. Buy good berries. Optimal storage conditions don’t matter much if the berries you bring home are bad to begin with. So what do you look for when shopping for this prized fruit? In North America, blueberries are at their best during the summer months (i.e., from June until August). Of course, if you aren’t purchasing local peak-season blueberries then the time of year doesn’t matter much. Instead, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council recommends consumers look for blueberries that have no leaves or stems, are “deep-purple blue to blue-black” in color and boast a healthy bloom. Hint: Bloom is that silvery-white stuff found on the surface of blueberries—an all-natural coating that protects berries from rot and moisture loss.
2. Pick off the mischief-makers. Don’t be surprised if there are a few duds among an otherwise beautiful pint of blueberries...but don’t let them overstay their welcome, either. Bad berries can spread their disease and spoil even the healthiest of the bunch. Inspect your berries and discard any that have any evidence of mold, as well as those that are unappealing and super squishy (i.e., soon to mold).
3. Wash what you eat (and only that). Definitely wash your blueberries before you have at ‘em. That said, it’s best to only wash the amount of blueberries that you plan to consume immediately. Once berries come in contact with water, they don’t fare so well in the fridge and are far more likely to end up moldy and mushy. Avoid this soggy state of affairs by only giving your blueberries a rinse when you’re ready to eat them up. (Note: If your eyes were bigger than your stomach, it’s still possible to save the blueberries that you couldn’t put away—just dry them gently and thoroughly with a paper towel before proceeding to the next step.)
4. Choose the right storage container. Those cute sea-green cardboard containers of blueberries that you find at the farmer’s market are actually choice packaging, and not just because they invite snacking. For optimal freshness and shelf-life, blueberries need to breathe without being exposed to too much moisture, which is precisely why an open container that allows air circulation is your best bet. Grocery stores often sell blueberries in vented, plastic containers—those will also do the trick, as long as both the container and the berries themselves are sufficiently dry. Bottom line: Once you’ve picked through your blueberries (and dried them, as needed) transfer those beauties to a storage vessel that is not air-tight.
5. Refrigerate the berries. Room temperature (or hot) storage environments are likely to result in over-ripening of the fruit, so don’t let your peak-season blueberries sit on the counter and soak up the summer sun. For best results, refrigerate blueberries instead: The cooler temperature of the refrigerator will ensure that plump, burst-in-your-mouth berries maintain their form and status (you know, snack-worthy and delicious). That said, do not put blueberries in the crisper drawer of your fridge. That produce-specific compartment boasts high humidity and little air circulation, which is good for some fruit and veg—but not for your precious berries.