Let’s face it: fresher is better! But there are definitely moments when we are coerced to use frozen goods, which is the same with fruits. Berries come in an assortment of shapes and sizes and various types of production, from fresh to packed to flash frozen.
Unfortunately, when we cannot use them all in a dish, we have no choice but to store them back in the freezer—else risk food waste! The advent of technology provided us with the boon of refrigeration, meaning we can keep foods for way longer than their everyday shelf life, truly a gift of modern innovation. That’s why it’s important to know how long berries can last out of the fridge, too. And if you’re not sure if your older berries are still safe for consumption, be sure to check out if you can eat berries if some (not all) are moldy.
And as they say, waste not, want not!
Berries that are thawed and are put back in the fridge generally can be kept refrigerated for two more days up to a week, depending on the initial freshness. This will help them keep their shape and form and most of their freshness, and you otherwise cannot taste the difference. In addition, frozen berries are actually better for cooking, as they retain their juices better!
There is also some common confusion in the preparation of berries, as people tend to eat them fresh from bushes (this is possible). Do you need to wash frozen berries?
How Long Do Frozen Berries Last in the Fridge?
Depending on initial quality, size, and sugar content, berries can reach four to eight months in the freezer. Keep in mind: make sure to put them in the freezer upon purchasing! Suppose you let the bag sit out even for a few hours before refrigerating. In that case, this can already affect the quality and shelf life. You may also be wondering if you can eat frozen berries without defrosting.
To keep the freshness as much as possible, it helps to follow the following tips:
- Washing before storage is a no-no
Basic biology dictates that moisture supports the growth of fungus, which rapidly spreads and spoils berries. In addition, washing and rinsing also strip berries off of their protective bloom, which prevents the berries from moisture loss and decay.
- Check rotten berries and other contaminants
Heard the saying that one rotten tomato spoils the bunch? Same logic for all fruits and vegetables. Remove the offending berries so that they don’t spread the mold to the other otherwise clean fruit. It will also help trim the berries off their stems and leaves, contaminating the batch.
- Always freeze overripe berries
Overripe fruit means near-end of shelf life, and while they make for sweeter fruit and jam, it also means they can get rotten quickly. If you spot berries that are bruised or soft or are sweeter to the smell, freeze them right away!
- Consider making dried fruit
Drying fruit has been a preservation technique since Egyptian times and has endured in popularity. Dried fruits last longer, are healthy and sumptuous, and make for excellent snack food. Many types of berries, like blueberries, can be quickly dried using a dehydrator or in an oven.
The first step is boiling to peel off the skin. Next, divide the berries on a baking tray and keep them in your oven at 140ºC for about 4 hours. Make sure to flip the berries every few minutes or so to prevent burning and sticking. Once the baked berries are dried and cooled down, transfer them to an air-tight container.
- Vinegar as a secret preserver
Vinegar is a natural antibacterial agent used as a preserving and cleaning solution since time immemorial. Rinsing berries in a solution of 1 part vinegar and 3 part water will remove the harmful microbes from the surface and prevent the mold from growing.
Oh, do they smell sour now? Easy! Just give the berries a final rinse with clean potable water, and they should smell fresh again.
Does Frozen Fruit Go Bad in the Fridge?
Yes, all fruit, including frozen ones, can and will go wrong even while in the refrigerator. Freezing only slows down the decomposition because the microbes cannot act as effectively in the cold (as most bacteria are both thermophilic and aerobic). However, decomposition is the natural end of all living organisms, including fruits.
How can you tell if the berries have gone wrong? There are several ways to tell. First, watch out for leaking juices. Bruise and soft blueberries whose juices are oozing out from their damaged skins are most likely wrong, so discard them right away.
Next, you can watch out for mold growth. These are usually white, green, or any other strange colored growth, apparent signs of spoilage. Finally, you can also take a look at the berries’ texture and softness. As mentioned above, squishy, overly soft, wrinkled, or dehydrated berries have gone bad and would be unsafe to eat.
The most important way to tell, however, is, of course, by taste and smell. If they smell rotten, get rid of them. In the same vein, if the bite is off, feel free to discard them without guilt. On the other hand, if you pick off some healthy berries, dip and rinse them in the vinegar-water mix to completely clean the selected berries and make them downright edible.
Can Frozen Berries Be Thawed and Eaten?
Frozen berries are perfectly safe to eat if they are appropriately stored when first purchased. There are no signs of spoilage, as stated above. Of course, the taste and quality will be slightly different as compared to fresh berries. However, frozen berries might have the edge over fresh berries when it comes to health. Freezing blueberries transform their natural antioxidants more available to the human body.
If you plan to eat frozen berries, here is a tip: slow defrosting generally maintains a better flavor and texture. Place your frozen berries in a bowl and cover with cling wrap. If you plan to eat these berries, you should thaw them for four to six hours until they are partially frozen and firm. Otherwise, you can let them thaw overnight.
Refrigeration has provided us the choice to preserve our food, especially perishable products like fruits whose real taste and quality can and will be affected by improper storage. If we take the proper steps and be diligent in storing berries from when they are first bought, there is no need to fear keeping and eating them after thawing.
Just make sure to remember to store, thaw, and refrigerate properly, and you should be fine. Don’t feel extremely bad for throwing away fruit that has gone bad! It is better to throw away rotten food than to be sick. Health is wealth, after all!