Blueberries are a delicious fruit, and one of the most popular fruits- but they're only in season for a short period of time each year. How long do blueberries last, and how can we make them last longer? How best can you store blueberries? From a family that consumes blueberries year-round, I'm here to help you get the most out of your blueberries!
How long do blueberries last? To some, this might seem like a silly question, however, the answer can vary greatly.
Factors that determine how long blueberries last include the quality of the blueberries, how old they are when you acquire them, and how you care for them.
Let's talk about how to choose blueberries at the store, how to store them, different options to make them last longer, and last but not least, how to grow them yourself!
Health benefits of blueberries
Blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients, making them often labeled as a superfood.
A 1-cup serving of blueberries contains:
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Manganese: 25% of the RDI
- Small amounts of various other nutrients
They are also about 85% water, and an entire cup contains only 84 calories, with 15 grams of carbohydrates.
They're high in antioxidants and are a great way to liven up yogurt, salads, smoothies and more.
How to choose blueberries
When shopping for blueberries, you want to choose plum, ripe berries with a firm skin. Blueberries do not ripen once picked, so it's important to get ones that are already ripe.
That said, you don't want ones that are overripe either. Most blueberries in the grocery store will have already spent a few days to a week off the bush, as they had to be picked, packed, and transported.
That's going to reduce their shelf life. Watch out for wrinkled skin, shriveled berries, or split skins. Those are signs of old berries that are on the verge of going bad.
Blueberries found at the farmer's market in blueberry season are likely to be much fresher and have probably been picked very recently. You may get a few extra days of life out of these.
How to store fresh blueberries
How long do blueberries last? Short answer, not a super long time.
These fresh berries should be stored in the refrigerator for the best return on your investment. The primary risk for blueberries in the refrigerator is moisture. Blueberry experts with the North Carolina Blueberry Council say the best way to store them is by keeping them as dry as possible until you’re ready to eat them.
When you get them home, check them for stems and remove any soft or cracked blueberries. Be suuuper gentle - blueberries can be delicate, and rough handling may crack them, adding more moisture to the mix and increasing the risk of mold.
Again, keep them as dry as possible. Don’t wash them until you’re going to use them, as they are prone to rot and mold if kept wet, and the moisture will accelerate their decline. When you are ready to eat, give them a quick rinse in cold water to rinse off any dirt or pesticides that might be on the skin.
5 fresh blueberry storage tips
- Daily prune – Check the container for damaged or moldy berries, and discard any that you find. These bad berries will promote the rot of the berries around them.
- Delay washing the berries – Don't wash them until you're ready to eat them.
- Leave on the counter – If you're going to eat the berries in 1-2 days, leave them out of the fridge. They will have less moisture and won't go bad if consumed quickly.
- Store in the fridge – If you need more than 1-2 days to eat them, they need to head into the fridge.
- Paper towel liner - Line the bottom and sides of your container with paper towels for absorbing moisture and avoid mold formation. Make sure they are in a breathable container that allows for air circulation!
Can you store blueberries in the crisper drawer?
This is an interesting question, and one I actually found conflicting answers on. Some say that the crisper drawer is a drier location and is the best place for keeping your berries in, others say that it's too closed up and doesn't allow for the necessary air circulation.
I personally think it probably depends on your fridge, the interior temperature setting, and what the berries are stored in.
I personally have gotten the best results by keeping my berries in their original plastic container with holes in it, lining it with a paper towel, and keeping it on a middle shelf in the refrigerator.
I recommend experimenting a bit and trying different locations to see what works best for you in your fridge!
How to freeze blueberries
Blueberries are easy to freeze and will keep up to a year once frozen. Before freezing, look through your berries and find:
- Stems and other debris
- Shriveled or cracked berries
- Berries with visible signs of mold or fuzz, especially around the stem area
- Soft, mushy, or blemished berries
- Underripe and immature fruit
- Off-colored berries
The photo below shows some blueberries that are on their last leg - their skin is starting to shrivel up, and you can see the wrinkles. How long do blueberries last? Depends on the berries.
I'd give these berries 1-3 days left if not eaten or frozen. After that, you'd probably start to find some moldy blueberries in the bunch, which would bring down the rest of the group fast!
Once you've sorted through, throw all of those away. Also, be sure to handle your blueberries gently so you don’t damage them!
Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the berries out in a single layer. You want to freeze them in a flat layer so they don't all stick together and form one big block of frozen blueberries.
That makes them very hard to pull out in small quantities and use in recipes!
Once they have frozen individually overnight, lift the parchment paper and transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag to store your blueberries, putting them back in the freezer.
They'll keep in there for up to a year, and after that you'll likely start to see some freezer burn on them.
How long do blueberries last
As with any fresh produce, the shelf life of blueberries is dependent on how your prepare and store them.
Want to know the answer to how long do blueberries last? Consider your storage and preservation method.
Proper storage will keep blueberries 2-3 days at room temperature.
Freshly harvested blueberries will last for 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
Cooked blueberries will last for approximately 4-5 days in the fridge.
Frozen blueberries will last for 6-12 months in the freezer.
Now, what about growing your own blueberries? How long do blueberries last if they are fresher than fresh?
I'm a big proponent of growing your own food, even in small quantities. You don't need a ton of space to grow a few things you can consume, and there's nothing more rewarding than choosing your berries off the bush and consuming them then and there.
Highbush vs. Lowbush
Blueberry plants come in two types - highbush and lowbush. The highbush type grow - you guessed it, high and tall, and the lowbush grow lower to the ground like shrubs.
Lowbush require winter chilling and colder temps, so if you're in a warmer climate, you'll need the highbush variety. You can read more about the two here.
Blueberries require an acidic soil and will take about five years to get established. They need plenty of moisture but can’t tolerate standing water.
Blueberries in the wild are often found along pine forests, ideal spots for acid-loving plants, and lowbush are the ones that are found growing in the wild.
Be aware that birds and other critters love blueberries as much as people, so you’ll need to net your plants or be prepared to share!
Commercially grown blueberries are most commonly raised and harvested by family farmers. New Jersey is the home of blueberry farming as a cultivated crop.
Give them a sunny, protected spot. While blueberries are tolerant of shade, better crops are obtained in the sun. At the same time, they will not thrive if exposed to harsh, drying winds.
Don’t plant blueberries too close to trees, as the trees will not only block out sunlight, but will also suck up any moisture in the soil.
If planting multiple blueberry bushes, it’s best to plant them in a patch, rather than scattered throughout your garden. This will boost both berry production and quality.
The blueberry bush is a shallow-rooted plant. It needs soil that holds moisture, but also drains well and doesn’t stay wet.
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