A Trick for Storing Berries to Keep 'Em Fresher, Longer

It's simple as can be.

June 12, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Berries: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Like many coveted objects, berries are both precious and frustrating, expensive and fragile. What is more maddening than splurging on vivid, juicy berries at the market only to find that your fruity jewels have turned to mush—or worse, have been overtaken by dreaded mold—when you return to them for a mid-week treat? 

Don't despair just yet: This berry horror story does not have to be your destiny. The culprits behind berry mold are the evil, microscopic mold spores waiting to make a home of the friendly, moist skin of your gorgeous berries. Fortunately, there is a simple way to kill off the mold spores and bacteria that find your berries as delicious as you do. 

It might seem counterintuitive to wash your berries before you're ready to eat them. One of the cardinal rules of keeping berries mold-free is to leave them unwashed until the moment before consumption. But, by washing your berries in a solution of vinegar and water, you can extend their shelf-life by days (sometimes even weeks!). 

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How to Store Fresh Berries 

Step 1: In a large bowl, make a diluted vinegar bath—1 cup vinegar, 3 cups water—and give your berries a dunk. The vinegar will eliminate any pesky mold and bacteria. 

Step 2: Next, drain your berries in a colander and rinse them under cool running water. This guarantees that you won't be able to taste any lingering traces of vinegar later on. 

Step 3: Now that you've washed your berries, it's time to dry them as thoroughly as possible. Do not be fooled: Moisture is still the enemy. The same salad spinner you use to dry off greens can be used to wick the water from your berries. Line it with about three layers of paper towels in order to create a pillow for your berries, then spin your berries for about 15 seconds, or until they are completely dry. 

Step 4: Instead of putting the berries back into the container they came in, where they will crowd each other, upgrade their digs. Place them in a sealable container lined with paper towels and leave the lid partially open to avoid trapping moisture. 

No Vinegar? No Problem 

But what if you return from the store with pints of berries only to realize there's no vinegar in the pantry? A quick bath in hot water will also work to destroy bacteria and mold spores. Dunk your berries in water between 120°F and 140°F for approximately 30 seconds. Dry and store them in the same way you would after a vinegar wash.

A Few of Our Favorite Berry Recipes 

Once you've learned how to extend the lifespan of your berries, the real question becomes: What will you do with them? Here are a few ideas...

1. Fruit Tart

A luscious pastry cream and rich, buttery shell make the perfect complement to fresh summer berries (pick your favorites!) in this fruit tart from cookbook author, photographer, and food writer Jerrelle Guy.

2. Strawberry Lime Crostata

In this laidback crostata, "lime stands in for the usual rhubarb to brighten the strawberries." The result: lively bursts of puckery-sweet strawberries and flaky crust. 

3. Berry Summer Pudding

Never made summer pudding? "Now's the time," says our co-founder Merrill Stubbs. You'll need just four super-simple ingredients (hello, mixed berries, sugar, white sandwich bread, and heavy cream). Once you've got those handy, all you need to do is assemble the layers and let them hang out in the fridge till you're ready to dig in.

4. Nigel Slater’s Raspberry Ripple Sandwich

This swirly sandwich is all about the whipped cream and berries—raspberries, that is. It's "a joyously messy experience and nostalgic even if you didn’t grow up in England eating raspberry ripple ice cream." 

5. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Fresh Blueberry Pie

There are few better ways to let peak-summer blueberries shine than in this Genius pie that keeps the fruit's texture and integrity totally intact. 

Do you have any tricks for keeping your berries fresh? Let us know in the comments! 

Photos by James Ransom. This article was originally published in June 2015, but we're sharing it again for berry season 2020.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • george hamilton
    george hamilton
  • Ann Soley
    Ann Soley
  • David Ellett
    David Ellett
  • Bill
  • Remy1234
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


george H. December 2, 2022
Well I can't see any way to add an image to a comment. Had a picture of a half flat of strawberries that I bought from my previously mentioned "Strawberry lady". $17 for six baskets. Had two of the baskets in the picture wrapped like I have described before. Anyone who wants to see them can email me at [email protected] .
Ann S. August 24, 2022
First time trying this method and I'm so impressed. I worked in small-ish batches using only half the vinegar and water as I didn't want to be too wasteful of vinegar. 8 days on, what's left of my very ripe strawberries from the farmers' market are still good, no browning or mold, and in fact they look good enough (even the frilly green bit - the calyx? something else I've just learned) to use as a dessert garnish. They're a deeper red than when first bought but that's not a problem. Next time I'll try lining the salad spinner with a folded soft tea towel. Even when serving berries the same day they're bought, I'll remember the salad spinner as a great way to dry them after washing. Not sure if this method will work for 'hollow' berries like raspberries as I don't see how you could get the inside dry enough for storage.
Ann S. August 24, 2022
I meant to add, it's also really convenient to be able to have washed strawberries ready to eat in the fridge (or to take to a potluck, weekend away, etc. etc.) - normally I'd wait until the last moment to wash them. And blueberries treated with the same method have held up really well - again, no spoilage at all, 8 days on.
Ann S. December 11, 2022
Just did yet another batch of berries with this method. A soft clean non-linty tea towel instead of paper towels works very well and feels less wasteful. Just choose one that won't stain from any berry juices. I've also lined the salad spinner with a towel for more delicate salad greens and it worked well. I tried using the method to dry a whole head of cauliflower and that didn't really work, but this would be great for drying crudite for a party.
David E. June 22, 2022
Btw, I researched the "FreshPaper" by Fenugreen that was mentioned below. Alleges to extend the life of fruits and vegetables in the fridge by 2-4x. Definitely works by all accounts. It has been reviewed and "seen on TV" everywhere.

The problem is that it is basically 8 sheets for $10 and 1 sheet in 1 drawer lasts only 3 weeks. I were using them, I would put 1/2 sheet each in the fruit and veggie drawers and see how that works. Probably would not be effective for the whole 3 weeks, but hopefully would be more effective both cost and food-wise.

Anyway, their website shows an excellent, much more cost-effective option of 480 sheets for $200. But unless you are going in on it with others or able to sell to others, that is not really a viable option. At this point, it does not really matter though since the option has been "sold out" for months, if not much longer.

When you go to the site (, a popup offers you 25% off your first purchase, which is decent.

If you regularly waste more than $1.25 per fruit or veggie drawer every 3 weeks, it may well be worth it. We are still considering it, but have not done it yet.

Thanks to those who suggested this and other "keep fresh" options. Would love to hear more personal experiences on these options.
David E. June 22, 2022

Glad I read these comments 6 weeks ago. What a difference a quick hot water bath makes, especially with a little vinegar (1:10 ratio). 30 seconds at 125F for strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, and 140F for blueberries. I have done it 3 times and it is wholly amazing how much longer berries last. 1-2 weeks at least.

I detach only the green leafs from the strawberries before doing the rinse.

Most recently, I had bought some strawberries and blueberries at Costco. I did not hot wash them right away since I was making smoothies the next day. So I forget to do the hot wash of the remaining fruit until about 5 days later, but I make the mistake of getting sidetracked for a minute while doing the strawberries and left them in for 1.5 minutes at an initial temp of at least 170F. I was in a hurry and there were lots of strawberries so I didn’t wait for the water to cool more. The skin looked like it was just going to start to shed when I finally got them out.

A few days after that, I got sick for a week due to stomach issues and could not eat high acidic foods. So the day before yesterday I am okay enough to have smoothies again. As I retrieve the fruit, I am thinking I will be throwing it out at this point, especially the strawberries, rinse or no rinse.

Nope! Strawberries and blueberries were about 85% good and I used all the one’s that were still good, but not the best, in my smoothy. Today, I am using the rest of them for smoothies and, again, about 80% of them are good. Amazing!

I am over 60 and I am just now learning about this? WTH!

I am in Mesa (Phoenix), AZ which means our fruits, especially berries, are mostly trucked in from California.
george H. May 12, 2022
I buy strawberries from a grower in Fairfield California. That's about 30 minutes from where I live. Two weeks ago I bought three baskets to use in morning smoothies. Wrapped each basket in paper towels, put each in it's own Zip Lock Quart Freezer bag and put them in the refrigerator. 13 days later they're pretty much gone but also pretty much as when bought. If you find a soft spot when you're using them cut it out if it bothers you. I don't hull them first but at the peak of the season I freeze bags for use in winter smoothies. Those I hull first. If you can find a nearby grower, it's worth the trip to buy them. They let them vine ripen. The junk you find in a grocery store are picked too early. They might even look good but they don't taste like much.
David E. May 9, 2022
Please forgive my ignorance, but I am confused. If containers are VENTED TO ALLOW MOISTURE TO ESCAPE, then do they not also allow moisture from other produce or other products to come in?

Especially since some produce needs moisture - yes?

Ann S. August 23, 2022
humid air in the fridge is OK - it's the actual moisture from condensation (which will form in a sealed container) that you need to avoid
Bill June 24, 2021
Try Harold McGee’s method of a 30 second dunk in 140 degree water. Google it!
Remy1234 June 7, 2021
Should you hull strawberries before or after completing this process? I'm excited to try this since I've already had to trash 2 containers this year due to my negligence!
cybernurse June 24, 2021
I've been using this method for a long time. With a very slight modification, which I'll pass along. It works! (BTW: Don't hull the strawberries, but DO pull off the stems.) I wash the berries in cool water in my salad spinner. I let them soak and splash around for a little, until the debris is washed off. I give them a spin, and while still damp from their bath, I SPRAY them with full-strength vinegar I keep in a small spray bottle I keep under the sink. (It "self-dilutes" due to the residual drops of water 💦 that's still on the surface.) After ~ 2 minutes, I rinse the vinegar off w cold water, and then refrigerate. Ditto process with blueberries. Sometimes they bathe together. I use a small sized salad spinner, so I store them in it, lined with a clean dry washcloth to minimize any moisture. (Eventually you'll find some mold or mushy fruit - if you don't consume them fast enough. The blueberries last longer.) The vinegar definitely removes the spores you can't see, and extends their life. Have fun!
Sue S. November 18, 2018
Using the vinegar method on strawberries and blackberries for the first time. Do I leave the lids on the bowls slightly open the entire time they are in the refrigerator?
suzan C. November 18, 2018
when i use vinegar on my strawberries i nestle them in a paper towel and put them back in their box and sometimes leave the top ajar but usually i just close it. if i were using plastic or glass storage i would definitely leave the top ajar
cybernurse June 24, 2021
Moisture is the enemy for berries. I find the method above (lining the container with a clean, absorbable cloth) works well. I leave my salad spinner top on, as the spout still allows air to circulate, which you need. You could leave it open to the air, and it would still work fine.
Really R. September 15, 2018
Can you use the white vinegar method on grapes?
Rosa L. September 24, 2018
Good idea. I've only used it on fresh berries but there is no reason it wouldn't work on grapes. The goal is to kill any mold/mildew and it works like a charm on berries.
cybernurse June 24, 2021
Yup for grapes 🍇. You'll be happy to have found another use for vinegar! 🍒 work well too.
Karen July 27, 2017
I always do this to my strawberries but I store them in a glass bowl. They last 1 to 2 weeks. I love this method.
Robert K. July 11, 2017
I have found a new product that keeps my berries fresh. It is a vented plastic storage box that comes in 3 sizes. It is Rubbermaid FreshWorks Produce Saver. It is vented to allow moisture to escape. So far its been working and keeping my berries free from mold and firm for a week or so.
george H. June 30, 2017
I agree with sandee except I skip one step. I buy blueberries in two pound tubs from Costco. That tub is slightly more than the capacity of a Zip Lock one quart freezer bag. I fill the bag really full and freeze it. I eat the remaining fresh ones that day or the next.
FS June 30, 2017
Wow, this thread really gets the comments, even though it's an old one.
I agree with those that recommend freezing rinsed and dried blueberries, that's what I do. As for any other berries ... sigh ... there isn't much good stuff to choose from where I live in the semi-rural Deep South. Strawberries and raspberries come from the store, and lately I haven't even seen organic
strawberries. Farmers market, you say? Not within 30 or so miles from here, and most of the few fruit stands that sporadically pop up offer commercially grown produce.
Growing strawberries and raspberries isn't a solution, they don't like our climate, bugs and diseases. Blueberries do well for some, alas, my plants died. Sigh ... Long story short, I will try the vinegar trick on strawberries.
sandee June 29, 2017
Don't wash the bluberries, lay them out in a single layer and freeze them. When they are completely frozen, remove them and put in freezer bag. When you want to use some, grab the amount you want, rinse them in cold water,
lay them out on a paper towel. They will defrost in a couple of minutes
Soc P. July 26, 2016
ok then, where I live, the nearest direct farm stand is 90 minutes away. has limited amounts of whatever they planted that year, and is not close to any other farm or farm stand. I have visited 5 of the farms that come to the farmer's market and have known who they are and what they grow for years. when my kids were young (and homeschooled) we went to the farms every couple of weeks to pick our own along with several other families. It is an all day activity and you never know what is going to be available. I learned to can all kinds of things. Now, the traffic is worse. most of these farms and farmstands are at least 2 hours away. It takes more than an hour to get to annapolis and the farmstands are beyond that. yes, some markets get their products from warehouses. my daughter's friend does that in maryland -- he goes to the warehouse and stocks his market stand from there. still might be fresher than the grocery store where they go to the warehouse a couple of days a week. I am pretty sure that most of us are aware of these things and know that if we could, we would pick in the early morning and keep the ripe beauties dry on the counter until eaten by our grateful and well fed families. I appreciate the growers wanting us to know what to do if we get these beauties in our hands. the reality is that we have to make do with what we can get, sometimes under trying circumstances, and any advice that might help is worth a try. would be nice if messages from growers or other experts could start with an identifier like "grower" or "restaurant chef" or whatever so that we can appreciate the circumstances that the advice is based on.
off in search of a "fresh" fennel for a sick friend (they have mostly gone to seed with the heat around here, but maybe I can find a nice full and frondy one hiding in the shade...)
george H. July 21, 2016
I'm certainly not going to repeat my comment from a year ago(see about 20 comments below) but you folks must get really crummy produce compared with the west coast to need to try all of these elaborate methods.
LaMar July 22, 2016
haha! I'm from the east coast and just returned from visiting my relative in LA, and YES I WAS JEALOUS
suzan C. July 22, 2016
yes, i read your comments and found them interesting. i live in a desert far far away (not arizona) so, yes, i have some crummy produce, mostly strawberries
Soc P. July 26, 2016
So glad your market has only the freshest produce available. I shop at the once a week farmer's market here in northern virginia, and rarely does a berry last more than a few days. You are fortunate that your farmers, berries and lifestyle are so perfect. Please consider that this discussion is taking place because some of us need to find ways to keep our food as fresh and un-gross as possible.
george H. July 26, 2016
I generally buy my strawberries not at the farmer's market but from the grower's produce stand. Having grown up on and off around the Chesapeake Bay(Virginia, Maryland, Delaware) I know those places exist. My grandparents operated one. If you live in the DC sprawl you may have to travel to find fresh berries but I'll bet they're out there. I live in the San Francisco Bay area so it's not exactly rural here. Takes me at least an hour round trip to go get strawberries so I buy a flat or two. Give some away to elderly friends of my parents, usually by a half flat for a client(I'm a builder) and ten I pick through the ones I'm keeping. Any with cuts or bruises are capped and frozen for winter smoothies. Only the most perfect ones get wrapped in paper towels and refrigerated. One thing that is better out here is it's dry all summer. Strawberries don't like being rained on and once they've gotten wet the only way to save them is to thoroughly dry them before they are put away. Remember also that most vendors at "farmer's markets" aren't farmers, at least out here. Many just go down to the wholesale produce markets and pick up their stuff. That's where the colorfully printed boxes come from. I know that you think that I'm picking on you but Food52 keeps sending me e-mails about another post on this thread. I keep chiming in because the few professional growers who have posted on here ALL say keep the berries dry and cool and NOT to pre-wash them. So you may think that I'm some West Coast superior to thou type but I'm really just trying to get you to listen to the damn people who actually grow the things.
Lynn C. July 21, 2016
The best way, I have found, to extend the life of strawberries is to hull them and then to stand them, on the hulled end, on a paper towel lined airtight container & store in the refrigerator. You'll be surprised just how long they last.
susan F. July 20, 2016
I wash all my vegetables and fruit as soon as I get home from grocery store. I use solution of small squirt of dishwashing detergent (like Dawn) and 1/4 c of white vinegar to large bowl of cold tap water. I rinsed and dry on towel or drying pad. This trick I learned from my new daughter-in-law. Amazing how fresh my vegetables last! The only problem has been with fuzzy fruits like peaches and apricots. They brown quickly.
Bob M. July 20, 2016
Yep. This works for most things. The fewer chemicals in the dish soap the better.
tamater S. July 20, 2016
Why use dish soap at all - why not just the vinegar and water?
Rosa L. June 29, 2017
Water to vinegar ratio of 10:1, rinse any berries in the solution, lift out of solution, drain in a colander and refrigerate...preferably in a Tupperware fresh product container. They should easily last 1-2 weeks.
suzan C. July 20, 2016
i have been using a vinegar rinse for about 2 years. it has worked fabulously with strawberries, they keep at least 2 weeks or until i use them up. blueberries don't seem to give me much trouble. (i don't rinse the strawberries but don't notice a vinegar flavor, maybe it's because i don't use alot of vinegar)