Finally! I Found a Trick That Actually Keeps Berries Fresh for Longer

published Jun 3, 2022
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Credit: Linda Xiao

Fresh berries are expensive, and nothing is more disappointing than purchasing a pint of fresh strawberries only to have them go bad within a day or two. So when we came across a tip from food scientist Harold McGee over on The New York Times for making fresh berries last longer, we knew we needed to share it. McGee is a trusted source for nerdy-yet-brilliant cooking advice rooted in science. His book, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, is an iconic resource for cooking tips ranging from properly blanching vegetables to perfectly cooking steaks — all with scientific research to back them up. So when McGee shares one of his cooking tricks, we always pay attention.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Secret to Longer-Lasting Berries? A Hot Water Bath

McGee’s secret to prolonging the shelf life of fresh berries? Dunking them in a hot water bath as soon as you get home from the grocery store. It’s a technique called thermotherapy, and his tests proved that it can help berries last longer so you aren’t throwing away as much food. In the article, McGee goes into detail about the various tests he performed in an attempt to find the perfect water temperature and time combination for increasing the shelf life of the berries. Ultimately, McGee landed on one winning combination that kept strawberries fresh the longest: dunking them in 125°F water for 30 seconds. The hot water suppresses mold growth, thus extending the shelf life of the berries. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Kelli Foster

How To Keep Fresh Berries Fresh for Longer

As soon as you get home from the grocery store heat a large pot of water on the stove to 125°F. (The easiest way to check the temperature of the water is to attach an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pot.) Once the water is at temperature, carefully add the berries to the water — making sure they are all fully submerged. Set a timer for exactly 30 seconds, then remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and transfer them onto a paper towel-lined sheet tray. At this point the berries can be stashed in the refrigerator as per usual. Of course, the berries will still go bad after several days, but the rate at which they spoil will slow down and you’ll get a few extra days out of them.

Have you ever tried the thermotherapy method of extending the shelf life of berries? Let us know in the comments!

This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: This Nerdy-But-Brilliant Tricks That Keeps Berries Fresh for Longer