[ This article is part of our Save The Food series on how to make the most of your food ]
Can you still use your berries?
- Any moldy berries should be discarded. Carefully check the remaining berries for signs of mold. Finding one moldy berry in a batch does not require you to throw them all out.
- Check if any berries are rotting by looking for any substantial discoloration, oozing, or an overly mushy feel. Discard any berries that are too far gone.
- Berries with a bit of wrinkling, discoloration, or loss of plumpness are usually still fine to eat. They are just no longer at their peak. There are many uses for berries beyond their peak freshness, including smoothies, baked goods, and frozen treats.
How to save berries
Freezing: If you have berries that still look pretty good, but you simply won't be able to use them all up before they turn, then freezing is a great option. Wash and dry them thoroughly, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Placing them on the baking sheet keeps them from becoming a frozen clump, but if you're ok with a frozen chunk of berries then you can skip this step. Once frozen, transfer them to a resealable bag or container for long-term storage. Frozen berries can be used in smoothies, baking, or as toppings for yogurt and oatmeal.
Jams, Preserves, Compotes, and More: Cook down overripe berries with sugar to make jams, jellies, or compotes. You can make an easy compote to use within a few days, a simple fridge jam that will last a few weeks in the fridge, or go for the full process to make a shelf-stable jam. The longer you want to store it the more careful you need to be about following the proper preservation techniques.
Incorporate: Incorporating berries into other foods is another great way to use them.
- Smoothies & Shakes: Blend overripe or slightly damaged berries with your choice of other ingredients into delicious smoothies and shakes.
- Baking: Incorporate slightly mushy berries into muffins, cakes, pies, tarts, or pancakes.
- Cocktails: If your berries are still in good shape you can add them directly into a cocktail for a bit of flavor and a visual element. If you berries are past their peak consider muddling them before adding them into a cocktail, you'll get more flavor this way too.
How to prevent berries from going bad
- Berries will usually only last a few days to a week, so the most important factor is not to buy too many.
- They should be stored in your fridge. A paper towel lined container with the lid on loosely or a bit open is best. Basically, you want to keep them dry and give them some room to "breathe." There are special containers for storing berries commercially, although scientific studies on how well they work are lacking.