Store Berries With Paper Towels To Make Them Last Longer

Closeup of strawberries drying on a paper towel
Closeup of strawberries drying on a paper towel - MSPhotographic/Shutterstock

You never see it coming. One day, your berries are thriving in the fridge, and the next, they're covered in mold, sabotaging plans for your summer berry bread pudding. Whatever happens overnight behind closed fridge doors remains a kitchen mystery, but you can now solve it with the help of paper towels. Like a gatekeeper of fresh produce, your kitchen Kleenex will capture the thieving moisture that steals vitality from your stored berries and extend their shelf life — all with just one or two paper layers.

To store blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, line the bottom of a jar with a paper towel before filling it with berries. Then, add another layer of paper towels on top and screw the lid on. The same applies if you store berries in their original clamshell container. You can line the container with paper towels and place the air-dried berries in a single layer before adding another sheet of paper towels. After that, go ahead and store your berries in the refrigerator as usual.

On their own, the most delicate ones such as raspberries and blackberries will typically stay fresh for one to two days, strawberries remain usable for approximately five days, and longer-lasting varieties such as blueberries can last for up to seven days. However, a kitchen test conducted by Allrecipes revealed that, when stored with paper towels, raspberries stayed fresh for 11 days, strawberries for eight, and blueberries for 24 days — over thrice as long as they would last without paper towels.

Read more: 13 Simple Tricks To Pick The Best Fresh Fruit Every Time

The Science Behind Storing Berries With Paper Towels

Black currant berries on a paper towel next to berries in a container
Black currant berries on a paper towel next to berries in a container

The reason paper towels are so efficient is because they're porous. They have tiny holes throughout their fiber, so any water left on the berries moves to the paper towels and is held there via capillary action. If you were to zoom in on this action, you'd see the cellulose that composes paper towels attracting the water molecules so that they cling to the fiber even against the pull of gravity.

Eventually, the paper towels will become moist and you'll have to swap them out for clean, dry ones. Berries are saturated with water and they suck up moisture from their environment, so introducing paper towels maintains a gradient where water molecules move from a wet to a dry surface. Don't make the mistake of starting with wet berries, though. You don't want to dampen the paper towels right away. Rather, dry the berries as much as possible so that the paper towels can efficiently absorb the excess moisture.

This storage method extends the shelf life of berries by preventing mold from forming. The more moisture they retain, the more likely berries are to become moldy. Therefore, it's best to eliminate excess moisture for longer-term storage. Apart from paper towels, ensure proper air circulation by using vented containers, and maybe employ a quick vinegar soak to kill any mold spores before storage. Should you want to store other produce, such as lettuce, we've also shown you how to add paper towels to your produce drawer and avoid waste.

Read the original article on Tasting Table