It’s that time of year. We’re perusing the farmers markets, cooing over the blueberries, squealing over the strawberries. Berries are the sign that we’re in the best part of the year. However, the most delicate of these berries—namely raspberries and blackberries—often don’t last us. When I spring the big bucks for a handful of the good stuff—probably organic and local, when I can find it—nothing ruins my summer quicker than finding it moldy the next morning. The truth is, the delicate flesh of these berries, raspberries in particular, just can’t hold up to, well, anything.
Weary to the bone of this waste, I went in search of good old-fashioned wisdom on the subject a few years ago. And no surprise, old-fashioned wisdom has much to say on the matter. A knowledgeable friend of mine who cans and cooks berries of all varieties and sturdiness has been wise to this tip for decades; in fact, she learned it from her grandmother.
- In a clean bowl, mix a solution of one part vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white) to ten parts water.
- Remove berries from original packaging, which you should discard/recycle.
- Gently rinse berries in the bowl of vinegar solution.
- If you like, you can rinse the berries in a separate bowl of regular water to remove any last traces of vinegar, but I find I can’t detect the flavor when I forgo this step. If you have a high-quality vinegar with a stronger presence, you’d be wise to take no chances and rinse.
- Place the berries in a plastic baggy, covered bowl, or plastic storage container in your refrigerator. And enjoy!
The vinegar kills the mold spores and helps remove/obliterate any clinging dirt or bacteria. This simple cleaning is all it takes to dramatically extend the life of your berries. Do you have any additional tips for prolonging the life of your produce?
This post first appeared in Persephone Magazine on July 28, 2011