Berry Season is Here!
Nothing beats the flavor of fresh berries, especially during the summer season. They’re the perfect snack, addition to a yogurt cup, baking, and even summer cocktail ingredient! While fresh varieties do offer the best flavor, the cost is higher than frozen. When there’s a great sale, buying in bulk is tempting, especially considering grocery prices so far in 2022. When not consumed in time, even if purchased at a great price, the result is money out the window. I have a few tips to extend the shelf life of berries and a way to give them a second life!
Extending the Shelf life of Fresh Berries
As with all produce, once picked from the stem, a berries’ freshness countdown begins. While you can’t control what happens on their journey from the farm to your kitchen, there are steps you can take to slow their clock. When extending the shelf life, there are three factors to keep in mind; eliminate any mold or bacteria, keep them dry, and allow them to breathe. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to check all three of those boxes.
Soak Berries in a Water and Vinegar Bath
Fully Dry Berries After Rinsing
Choose a Container Encouraging Airflow
You can also use a container that allows airflow, such as Rubbermaid containers. I’ve used Rubbermaid produce containers for fruit, lettuce, and vegetables, and I swear by them! The Rubbermaid instructions say not to wash berries, but I have without issues. However, I always ensure that they are thoroughly dried once rinsed.
Eventually, Berries Will Run out of Time
Now, even if you follow all of those steps to the letter, food waste can still happen. Unfortunately, the “out of sight out of mind” motto also applies to fridges. That’s especially true if a grocery item was an impulse buy sparked by a sale without being on your list. If you notice your berries are beginning to soften and you don’t have a recipe in mind, extend their life in the freezer! Freezing saves money and also reduces food waste. I have freezing tips to make your life even easier.
Freeze Whole Berries on a Cookie Sheet First
When reaching for frozen fruit, it can be frustrating when a frozen clump emerges. Clumping can happen when fresh berries are added to a bag or container and left to freeze. While freezing in bags saves time, any berry juice or water will sink to the lower layer and act like glue. So instead, freeze them in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. The airflow between berries helps prevent juices from pooling and prevent sticking. Once frozen, transfer the berries to a freezer-safe container, and record the frozen-on date.
Easily Mix Berries into Frozen Drinks
If you often make smoothies, cocktails, or water infusions, this hack will make your life much easier! Whether you have berries on their way out the door or a fresh arrival to your kitchen, blended fruit and an ice cube tray are game-changers. Pouring fruit puree into an ice mold allows you to create frozen cubes of flavor that you can add to any drink! Once set, pop the fruit cubes into a freezer-safe container, and record the date frozen. Best of all, using an ice cube tray creates single portions that are easy to remove and use.
The berry cubes work in a variety of drinks, including smoothies, frozen cocktails, or even replacing plain ice! As the berry cubes melt, the fruit slowly infuses flavor into your drink without watering it down! I love this hack because it’s the ice cube version of using leftovers for dinner. If you have some bananas, strawberries, and oranges, you can blend the ingredients into frozen cubes for smoothies in the future.
Enjoy the Flavors of Berry Season
The best way to prevent food spoilage is to buy the amount needed. But when a great sale comes along, rinsing, drying, and ensuring produce has airflow in storage can extend shelf-lives. And should you not consume them in time, before you throw berries away, freeze them for a second life! It’s a simple step that will help save you money and still use them in a different way! What are some of your favorite berry recipes?
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