3 Berries to Wash Right Away (and 3 You Never Should)

updated Dec 3, 2022
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(Image credit: Linda Xiao)

To wash, or not to wash? That is the ever-present question that looms when we return home with our berry haul. These sweet summer gems are delicate, and unless you’re lucky enough to pull them from your garden or backyard, most of them don’t come cheap. You want to treat them right, and if possible, even prolong their shelf life.

When it comes to washing berries, the when and why depends on the type of berry you’re dealing with. Some fare well when washed immediately and stored, while others hold up best and last longer when they’re not washed until right before eating. Below, we’ve shared which berries need what and explain why that’s the case. Knowing when to wash berries is the first step in making them last.

The 3 Berries to Wash Right Away

The choice to wash berries right after you bring them home comes down to how well they can handle it and how badly they need it. The berries listed below are sturdy enough to wash before heading into the fridge. They also benefit from a dip in treated water to prolong their shelf life. As for berries picked from a backyard bush or an obliging field, cleaning them right away removes any animal friends or unwanted debris.

1. Strawberries

Whether you plan to devour these sweet red gems immediately or save some for later, go ahead and wash them now. For added insurance to keep them around longer, use a vinegar and water solution or a hot water bath.

2. Blackberries

Go ahead and wash these jewel-colored beauties right away. Like strawberries, blackberries can also benefit from a longer shelf life when washed in a vinegar and water solution or a hot water bath — just make sure to dry them really well before storing.

3. Huckleberries, Mulberries, and Other Backyard Berries

A cousin of the blueberry, deeply colored huckleberries, along with mulberries and service berries, can and should be washed right away to remove any insects, dirt, and grit.

The 3 Berries to Wash Just Before Eating

Whether they’re too fragile or come with their own built-in protection in the form of a waxy bloom, these berries don’t need a bath until you’re ready to eat them.

1. Raspberries

These sweet berries are particularly fragile, with thin skin that easily soaks up liquid, making them more prone to mold and spoilage. So the best way to keep them fresh and extend their shelf life even longer is to wash just before eating, and no sooner.

2. Blueberries

Unless you plan to eat them immediately, there’s no need to jump the gun on washing blueberries. These small summer fruits last longest when stored in the back of the refrigerator, and washed just before eating.

3. Grapes

Even though we don’t think of them this way, yes, grapes are technically berries. Once you get them home, stash these fruits in the fridge immediately, and then rinse just before eating.