Those blueberries you brought from the store look so fragile, don’t they? It’s summertime, and berries are the perfect fruits to include in our diets with their generally low glycemic index and refreshing taste. They are excellent in smoothies, desserts, salad,s and as general snacks.
The thing with food and a busy lifestyle though, is that sometimes it’s so easy to lose track of what’s going on in the fridge. The last thing we want to find in our fridge is spoiled food, and we also want to protect our investments; healthy food is pricier than junk food, especially of the organic variety. So what can we do to help preserve and protect the berries we buy with so much good hope and love?
4 Steps to Take for Berries’ Sake:
1. Background Check
This is the stage I call the background check. It may seem pretty intuitive, but it’s important to mention nonetheless. When you’re picking out your batch of berries, do they appear in good condition? Are there moldy or spoilt berries in the batch?
Even one bad berry can negatively effect the rest. When we get home, we want to check the berries out again, and promptly remove any mouldy or spoilt berries.
So you’ve brought the berries home. What next? The strawberries, blackberries and other “backyard berries” we wash straight away with a vinegar water rinse, and then store. More delicate berries with their own protective film, like blueberries, raspberries and grapes, we let alone until we are ready to eat them.
3. The Wash and Store
The water-vinegar rinse is a must for preparing our berries for conscious consumption. Washing berries in a water vinegar rinse removes pesticides from them. Grapes and strawberries are on the Environmental Working Group’s ‘dirty dozen’ list, referring to the foods most contaminated with pesticides.
This water vinegar rinse also helps extend the shelf life of berries. If the berries are organic and you aren’t concerned about there being pesticides, wash berries in a mixture of 3 cups warm water and 1 cup vinegar. Then, rinse with cool water.
If you are worried about the berries having pesticides, here is a slightly more thorough method for getting those chemicals out. Registered Dietician Gayle Povis Allemen suggests making a bath of 10% white vinegar to 90% water. He suggests letting the produce sit in for 20 minutes or so, but since berries are fragile, we can make it 5 minutes. Then rinse the berries in clean water.It is important to dry our washed berries. The method of doing so depends on which berries we have. This is a neat trick I learnt from momables.com; Berries that can handle it, such as strawberries, we can dry in a salad spinner. On the other hand, thinner softer berries (think blueberries) we need to dry on a towel with paper towels.
Now for storage, some people like to use the actual plastic baskets that some berries come in to also store the berries at home. They have those openings which will help manage the moisture levels inside the container. We want to protect our berries from moisture and mould. The trick is to wash them, line them with paper towels, and place the berries in.
If we don’t have that, we can place them in another box that we can seal; if it is airtight, we can leave the lid just a little bit open to avoid the moisture problem. Give them a nice home in the fridge; blueberries love being in the back, and grapes love being on the top. The happier they are, the longer they last!
So you’ve got a lot of berries, and can’t see them being finished while they are still fine in the fridge? Freeze them. Frozen berries are excellent for smoothies, and many people prefer frozen ones over fresh ones for this purpose. You see them becoming to ripe? We can use these for smoothie and sorbet making purposes and they’ll turn out delicious!