Three weeks ago I started an experiment. I was determined to see what the best method is for washing (or not washing) and storing fruit to make it last longer. I hate when food goes bad and I have to throw it away! It’s basically throwing money in the trash.
So I purchased strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and grapes for my test. I tested three different methods – unwashed in original packaging, washed in vented containers, and washed in airtight containers. I must admit, the results surprised me! So here is a progression over the 21 days of how the fruit aged.
Strawberries were by far the worst in all three containers but the end of the 21 days. I did notice the fastest decline in firmness and texture in the unwashed variety. They didn’t mold as fast, but they became more shriveled and soft. The venting and airtight containers yielded similar results, but I found strawberries one fruit that seems to be best eaten within the first week.
I was very surprised that the raspberries molded in the washed venting container first! I thought that option would keep them the most fresh, but it turns out I was wrong. I was shocked that at the end of 21 days, the raspberries that had been washed and stored in the airtight container looked almost brand new. There was no mold and they were still edible!
I must have had a pretty good batch of blueberries because they all stayed reasonably good over the 21 day period. On about day 5, I did notice more wrinkles and softness in the unwashed blueberries. By day 21, I was shocked that the blueberries in the airtight container were crunchy, firm and looked the same as they did on day 1.
Similar to the other berries I tested, the washed blackberries in the airtight container stayed the most fresh – by far. There was no mold or mushiness at the end of 21 days. Both the original packaging and venting packaging blackberries had quite a bit of mold and softness.
It’s always disheartening when you pick out nice crunchy grapes and a few days later they look more like raisins than grapes. I found that with grapes, washing them in the water and vinegar mixture made the biggest difference in keeping them fresh and crunchy. The unwashed grapes started going soft and wrinkly in the first 5-6 days. The washed grapes in both containers stayed crunchy and fresh for the entire 21 days, with the ones in the airtight container keeping the highest quality.
The most effective way to make your fruit last longer is to soak it in a bath of water and vinegar, let it dry on a towel, and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
The method varies slightly for different kinds of fruit, so I’ll take you through the process here:
Step 1: Place berries in a big bowl filled with water and about 1/4 cup vinegar (distilled white or apple cider both work – the vinegar helps kill mold spores). Soak for about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Rinse berries well to remove any excess vinegar.
Step 3: Spread out on a clean towel to air dry. If using strawberries, slice them before laying out to dry.
Step 4: Once mostly dry, place in an airtight container (I prefer glass jars) and store in the fridge.
Step 1: Place grapes in a big bowl filled with water and about 1/4 cup vinegar (distilled white or apple cider both work – the vinegar helps kill mold spores). Soak for about 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: While grapes are soaking, pull them off the vine to stop the ripening process and keep them fresh even longer. Remove any soft of mushy grapes.
Step 3: Rinse grapes well to remove any excess vinegar.
Step 4: Spread out grapes on a clean towel to air dry.
Step 5: Once mostly dry, place in an airtight container (I prefer glass jars) and store in the fridge.
NOTE: I also like to wash my other fruits in the vinegar and water bath (things like apples, pears, peaches, etc) so that they’re ready to grab and eat at any time. I store those in the fruit/veggie drawer of my fridge or in a bowl on the kitchen counter.
If you find that your berries aren’t getting completely dry or condensation is forming on the inside of your container, you can fold up a paper towel and put it at the top of your container. After you put the lid on, store the container upside down in your fridge so that the paper towel is now on the “bottom”.
This method of washing and storing the fruit does take a little bit of time upfront, but it’s SO worth it. It saves time throughout the rest of the week because everything is ready to eat. It also helps us eat more fruit because we can see what we have, and it lasts longer this way than just putting it in the fridge unwashed.
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