Blueberries are a yummy treat no matter how you like to eat them and they have a ton of health benefits too. They are also a very versatile ingredient—you can use them for pancakes, muffins, smoothies, and pies.
If you love this superfood, chances are you probably buy a ton of blueberries whenever you make a trip to the supermarket. Which begs the question—how long do they last?
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Read on for an extensive guide on the shelf life of blueberries and hacks on how to store them properly so they last longer:
What is the Shelf Life of Blueberries?
Blueberries are a fruit, so like all fruits, they do go bad. How long they last depend on how well you store them, but they will definitely go bad when a certain amount of time has passed. It’s pretty easy to tell when blueberries have gone bad.
You’ll note that blueberries in packages typically don’t have an expiration date marked on them if you’ve purchased some. Most of them carry a use-by date that may be consulted while making a purchase.
Like most fruit, they last for 3–4 days when kept at room temperature. If you store them in the fridge or freezer, they will last a lot longer. Low temperatures are excellent for securely keeping food.
In the refrigerator, blueberries can keep for anything from a week to ten days. They will remain edible for up to a year if you’ve frozen them. They may also be dried and preserved, giving them a shelf life equal to that of frozen blueberries.
Remember that the temperature affects how quickly blueberries spoil when kept outside of the refrigerator. So anticipate them to spoil more quicker than usual if it’s the height of summer or it’s really humid.
How to Tell if Blueberries Have Gone Bad?
It is very easy to spot rotten blueberries. But if you are a complete novice in the kitchen, you might not catch on so easily. If you are wondering whether the blueberries in your kitchen have gone bad, look for the following signs:
- When blueberries go bad, their skin either bursts or cracks and they start leaking liquids. If the blueberries are soggy and leaking, stay away from them.
- Berries are very susceptible to mold. Most often you’ll see a white mold on the surface of the blueberries that are a little old. This is a sign that they are not safe to eat.
- The skin of fresh blueberries is taut and firm to the touch. When blueberries start going bad, they start getting soggy and squishy, taking on the appearance of deflated balloons.
- Rotten fruit has a very distinctive odor. If the blueberries start smelling funky, they have definitely gone bad.
If you think that some of them are salvageable, you need to pick them out and rinse them in a solution of water and vinegar before you eat them.
- The usual signs aren’t always there. If you can’t tell by smelling or looking at the blueberries, you need to taste them to see if they are still good. This is especially true for dried blueberries. Just nibble at the fruit to see if the taste is off.
- Frozen blueberries have a very long life, but they are vulnerable to freezer burn. It doesn’t make them unsafe to eat, but it does reduce their quality.
- If any blueberries have discolored patches or they start getting dry, make sure to eat them soon.
Storing Blueberries the Right Way
Here are a few handy tips to help you keep blueberries fresh for as long as possible:
- People often wash blueberries before storing them so that they’re ready to eat. However, this shortens their life as moisture makes them go bad faster.
- Unwashed blueberries have a protective bloom on their surface which keeps them from spoiling for a longer time. So don’t wash blueberries unless you are going to eat them immediately.
- Do a quick inspection and remove any rotten or molding berries from the batch. Take out the stems too, as they can make the blueberries taste bitter.
- Store them in a low humidity area of the fridge. The crisper part of the fridge is not ideal for blueberries as it doesn’t have good airflow.
- If the blueberries are fully ripe, it is better to put them in the freezer. They won’t last longer than two weeks in the refrigerator.
- You can dry blueberries at home too. Boil them till the skin is cracked and use an oven or food dehydrator to dry them.
- Make a solution of ¼ parts vinegar and ¾ parts water and rinse the blueberries with the solution. Give them a rinse with normal water to get rid of the sour smell. This will prevent mold.
What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Blueberries?
Eating spoiled blueberries is not recommended because they can carry many contaminants. The most dangerous one is hepatitis A. Stick to eating fresh and clean blueberries to avoid the risk of food poisoning or other infections.
Spoiled blueberries could also cause respiratory distress or allergy symptoms in some people. They also have low to zero nutritional value and taste bad, so there’s no upside to eating them.
If you have a suspicion that the blueberries in your home have gone bad, it is best to stay on the safe side and throw them away.
Can Blueberries be Stored in the Freezer?
It is perfectly safe to store blueberries in the freezer and it keeps them safe for a very long time. Freezing blueberries is a very simple and easy process.
Wash the blueberries and gently dry them with paper towels. Spread them out in a tray and keep them in the freezer. They should be completely frozen in 3-4 hours. Take them off the tray and put them in zip-lock bags. Make sure they are air-tight.
That’s all, you will have fresh blueberries in the freezer whenever you need them. Moreover, frozen blueberries might even be healthier than fresh ones as they make the antioxidants in blueberries easier to absorb.
The Bottom Line
Blueberries are an amazing treat to have in the house. You can use them for many dishes and they are chock full of nutrients that keep you healthy.
Storing them properly is more important than you’d think because eating spoiled blueberries is very risky.
If you want to keep them safe for the longest possible time, freezing or drying is the best way to preserve them. They will stay edible for up to a year and you can still use them in a variety of recipes.