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How To Store Blueberries So They Keep Fresh And Last

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Fresh blueberries are always a treat, whether you top your oatmeal with them, use them in a sundae recipe, or enjoy them as a low-calorie snack. Knowing how to store blueberries is very important since you won't want these delicious little berries to go bad before you have the chance to enjoy them.

Blueberries in a colander with a blue kitchen towel underneath.
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Blueberries are one of the most popular berries and feature in all kinds of delicious dessert recipes such as muffins, blondies, and pies. They're a popular breakfast component and also make a wonderful snack. I love blueberries and often enjoy mixing them with yogurt and granola to make a filling breakfast.

You can find these berries anywhere from farmers' markets to grocery stores. Blueberries also come frozen, which is handy if you want to make smoothies or milkshakes.

What are Blueberries?

Blueberries (Vaccinium Corymbosum) have a long history, having been enjoyed by humans for some 18,000 years. Nearly a billion pounds of these berries are cultivated every year in North America.

Not only are these little berries tasty, but they also offer nutrients including Vitamins C and K, fiber, and manganese. There are different types of blueberries, with the following being the most common:

  • Highbush: The most common type grown in the United States.
  • Lowbush (wild): Smaller than the highbush berries and higher in antioxidants.

Blueberries are small, blue in color (hence the name!), and offer a delicious sweet flavor. Try them in sauces and salsas, salad recipes, iced tea, cocktails, lemonade recipes, cheesecakes, or simply by themselves.

How to Choose the Best Blueberries

Look for ripe blueberries which are plump, deep blue, and don't have bruises or dents in them. Medium or large blueberries tend to be sweeter than very small ones. 

Wrinkled skin, mold, or blemishes are a sign of spoiled blueberries. Look for bloom which is the name of the white powdery substance on the outside of the berries - this natural coating is an indicator of freshness.

Choose blueberries in a transparent container if you can, so you can be sure there aren't moldy ones at the bottom of the container. Also, firm blueberries are the freshest, but if they're just a little soft they'll be fine for making desserts, purees, or cookies. The hard ones aren't quite ripe yet.

Close-up view of blueberries in a white bowl.

How to Store Blueberries

Fresh berries will keep for a few days if you learn the best way to store them. So if you've treated yourself to a container of these tasty fruits, read on for the best blueberry storage tips.

  • The first thing to do is inspect the blueberries to make sure none of them have any mold on them. If there is a wrinkled or fuzzy one, throw it away, otherwise, the moldy berries will make the others moldy too.
  • You don't have to wash them in cold water until you eat them, but if you're only going to eat a few at a time, you can wash and dry them to remove excess moisture. A quick rinse is fine, you don't need to soak them.
  • If you do choose to wash them, put them in a colander and run cool water over them then dry them completely in a single layer on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet or similar. You can also dry them using a salad spinner.
  • Line a container with paper towels. You can use the basket or box they came in. Don't use an airtight container because mold spores develop quicker when there is no air circulation. 
  • Keep the dry berries refrigerated, but not in the crisper drawer because there isn't as much air circulation in there. They will enjoy better air circulation kept on one of the shelves.

When prepped and stored this way, the blueberries should be good for up to a week.

If they're overripe when you get them, it's best to spread them out in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze them. Next, you can pop them into a freezer bag or a freezer container and freeze them, otherwise, they are going to spoil really fast.

Ensure your frozen berries are in a sealed glass or plastic container to avoid freezer burn. You can thaw them and use them in anything from blueberry jam to any kind of tasty blueberry dessert.

How to Tell if Blueberries are Bad

When blueberries spoil, they soften, wrinkle, and grow mold. Mushy blueberries will taste sour and should be discarded. If they have faded and are no longer bright blue/purple, throw them out.

If the only issue is bruising and there is no mold or discoloration, you can still use them to make jam, jelly, blueberry pie, sauce, or salsa. Blueberries are a fragile fruit and a little bruising isn't unusual as they make their way from wherever they were picked to the grocery store or farmers' market.

Common Questions

Can you use blueberries in savory dishes?

Although blueberries are more typical in desserts, they can also be used in savory recipes and are a good way to add more interest to a dish as well as color to the plate. For example, you can add them to a chutney or salsa, or make a sweet sauce for chicken or pork with them. The only limit to what you can make is your imagination.

Do you have to keep blueberries in the refrigerator?

If you leave them at room temperature, your blueberries will only last a day, so it's best to keep them in a breathable container in the refrigerator for the best results.

Are blueberries that you've cooked as healthy as raw ones?

Cooking blueberries won't remove all the nutrients, but you might like to cook some of them and enjoy the remainder raw to enjoy all their health benefits.

Blueberries in a white bowl.

Interesting Facts

  • One blueberry bush can produce up to 6,000 berries a year.
  • Blueberries were known as "star fruits" by indigenous North Americans because there is a 5-pointed shape at the top of each berry.
  • Very few foods are naturally blue. Anthocyanin is the name of the pigment that gives blueberries their color.
  • The acidity of white vinegar inhibits mold growth, so adding a splash to water before washing blueberries in it can prolong their freshness a little longer.

Knowing how to store blueberries is a great way to keep them fresh for longer. Whether it's blueberry season or you just crave some juicy, fresh-picked blueberries, these sweet little fruits are tasty and versatile. Blueberries really are a delicious fruit!

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