A very cool thing about sharing your life online to whatever degree – completely public and open, just connecting with friends, or sharing from a business perspective – is that you can never fully anticipate what will resonate most with those whom you share with. I never thought one of my most popular posts and topics on social media would be about how I prep my berries every week! Right??? It’s very much an example of the fact that a) you can never assume something is too simple to bother sharing with others, B) you can share something more than once – a lot of people will miss it the first time, and C) we all love finding simple little tips and ideas that make life just a teeny tiny bit easier. I know I do.
OK so berry prep! Let’s get into it. I’m answering your questions and let me just tell you – it’s all very, I mean BERRY, simple 😉
If you are one of the many who have tried this and messaged or commented that it works, you KNOW.
If you are a little skeptical – or have no clue what I am talking about – see the post here and read on!
What is berry prep?
Berry prep is simply cleaning, cutting, and preparing berries, like strawberries and blueberries, in advance. The goal is putting them into storage containers so that they are ready to eat when you want them : breakfasts, lunches, snacks, whenever. Simple.
I started this for a couple reasons :
- I noticed that when I had the berries in their original cartons, they would go moldy and smushy and bad before we could finish them.
- I thought is was a little annoying to have to wash the berries every time we wanted to eat them.
- I thought, there has to be an easier way.
I already was chopping and preparing vegetables during my weekly meal prep – why not fruits and specifically berries, too? I had heard you shouldn’t wash them in advance, but I am the type where if I am curious about something, I just try it to see for myself. The end result?
- They lasted longer
- We ate them more because we could SEE them in the fridge very easily
- We also ate them more because they were more accessible and ready every time.
My kids would see them in the fridge and say “strawberries!” and I would pour some into a bowl and their snack was ready. When I would pack the kids lunches, the berries were ready for me to pack up. It was such a small convenience that I have done it pretty much every week since, about 4-5 years now.
So here are the most commonly asked questions about my berry prep!
How do you do it?
It’s so simple. Because I’ve been asked this so many times (which is fine!) I just want to put it down in official blog-writing here :
- Buy berries. I always get organic, and usually from Costco. We have a lot of berry-eaters in the house, and I love their quality and prices. I normally do blueberries and strawberries.
- Wash them (see below)
- Let them dry. I’ll either lay them out on a plate or keep them in their carton or in a colander.
- Cut, if they are strawberries. I cut off the tops, then cut them in half or occasionally keep them whole if they are very small strawberries. OR sometimes if they are giant berries, I’ll cut them into thirds. If I’m doing raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, I leave them the way they are.
- Place into airtight containers (see below)
- Enjoy your ready-to-eat berries all week!
What do you use to clean the berries?
Water. That’s it! And here’s why. I always buy organic berries because they, especially strawberries, are on the list of the most important things to always buy organic (see the list of “the dirty dozen” here.) So they already are free of the most important thing that I am most worried about : pesticides. But of course you need to wash your fruit and veggies before eating because of dirt and contamination and being handled in transit, so I do that with water.
I have heard about using white vinegar, but I have not tried it. I actually cannot stand the smell of white vinegar, and since I have never had a problem with just using water, I have stuck to that.
I also know there are fruit and veggie specific cleaners. Something about putting cleaners onto foods like fruits and veggies just doesn’t sit right with me, so I haven’t tried that either, and I don’t know if I will. That’s just my feelings on it. I personally think water washing goes a long way in removing the most worrisome parts. If you want to try fruit and veggie washes, I don’t see why you couldn’t.
That all being said, here’s how I do it : I rinse them under water for a LONG time, and shake them and take them out of the packaging and rotate them and move them around and rub them a tiny bit. A lot of the dirt comes out that way. I have soaked them in bowls as well. But I noticed that just as much dirt and parts (which look bad but they are actually just berry parts) end up on the bottom of my sink than in my bowls when I do them that way. So I tend to go with a rinse, it just depends on the time I have. Trust me that I have tried lots of configurations of cleaning, and the important part of it all is that you just have to WASH THEM – however way you want. Don’t over think it!
To dry them, I let them sit in the carton, other times I will let them dry laid out on a big plate, all while I am doing my other meal prep tasks. Arizona is dry so they might dry faster than other more humid areas of the country but I WILL say this : I have put them in many, many times still damp – and they are still fine. I can’t explain it, and berry farmers across the nation may say NO MIKA! But guys, it works JUST FINE. They last until the end of the week and again, much much MUCH longer (i.e. don’t get moldy or mushy) than when I have left them as-is in their carton. They keep really well. More on that below.
What containers do you use?
I love these jars and lids and use them for a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, and even soups and sauces for storage in our fridge each week. I love them because they utilize the vertical space in the fridge that sometimes can get wasted. I also have these glass containers and these as well for general food prep and storage. The important thing is that they are airtight.
You also don’t have to go out and buy all matching new containers to do this. You can use whatever you have as long as they are airtight. Also, I have steadily switched over to more glass in the home, especially because of BPAs containing estrogen disruptors and I have struggled with estrogen imbalances, plus we have girls and their hormonal health is very much on my mind. But I’m keeping it real and still do use some plastic products, like Ziplocks. I think it’s important to make healthful changes where you can and as much as you can, but not stress out and freak out. Your home may be plastic free – but the world you step out into isn’t. So I do what I can. The fridge and kitchen is one area I have transitioned to more reusable and glass, because these are in contant with consumable products that go into our digestive systems and your gut. Anyway, all this is to say that when I first started berry prepping I used large Ziplocks and you certainly can, too. I know there are silicone ziplock bags, I just personally haven’t used them yet.
Do they last?
YES. And this is where the “berry prep controversy” comes into play. (Russ has jokingly called this “berry-gate” because of all the comments. The most questions I get around all of this is “DO THEY LAST?” ” THEY DON’T GO BAD IF YOU DO THIS?”
The simple answer is no.
And here’s the thing : I wouldn’t take the time to share all of this with you if the berries didn’t last! And that goes for anything on the blog or my social media – I wouldn’t suggest something if it hadn’t worked well for me first!
I know that it has been the general rule of thumb to not wash berries in advance and to not place them in containers. So breaking that engrained mindset has what has been challenging to some, I think, and what created the heat and questions around this topic. But part of me also thought “if grocery stores (like the above) does it, why can’t I at home?” I essentially wanted to create the above photo in my own fridge. By doing this, I could benefit from the convenience (which they are marking up so highly at the store) at a better price, and place them in better-for-you and better-for-the-berries in airtight, reusable, glass containers. So I tried it. And it worked. And it’s worked every time. And now it’s working for many of you who have tried this! Which makes me so happy! Kind of like a spark joy moment for me, guys.
Here are my happy little berries in our fridge, along with other ingredients for the week ahead :
So my encouragement is – just try it. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work once and you can go back to however you were washing and storing berries before. But I can’t say enough of how something small and simple can make a huge difference in your day to day – and even a little bit of your happiness, too! Knowing something is done, clean, and ready is such a great feeling.
Happy berry prepping, guys!
S H O P T H E P O S T