Do Blackberries Go Bad?

Blackberries are in season, and you’ve bought one package too many on the farmer’s market. Now you’re wondering how to store them, so they don’t go bad that quickly. Or maybe you already know that you have way too much blackberries on hand, and you’re looking into freezing them.

Either way, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we talk about storage options, shelf life, and spoilage of blackberries. If you’re for info on either of these topics, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in.

Bowl of blackberries
(credit: Don Lu)

How To Store Blackberries

Storage guidelines for blackberries are quite similar to their cousins’: strawberries and raspberries. The first thing to do, right after you get home with the berries, is to go through all of them and discard moldy and damaged ones. Microorganisms spread in these fruits like wildfire, and one or two bad ones now might result in half of the package being done for the next morning.

Okay, now you have only great-looking blackberries, should you wash them? It’s up to you. Many sources suggest to avoid washing the fruits until you use them, and that’s the safest option. But if you want to have them ready to use, you can wash them, but make sure you thoroughly dry them before they go to storage.

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You should definitely wash blackberries before eating (RBFA). Transfer them to a shallow colander and rinse carefully under a gentle stream of water. Just like you do with cranberries.

Now let’s talk about where the berries should sit. If you’re going to finish the whole package the same day, the countertop is okay. But if you need more time than that, the fridge is the way to go.

When it comes to how to store them in the fridge, there are a few things to remember:

  • Make sure the container is well vented. Blackberries often come in vented plastic clamshells, and if you use your own container, make sure they can breathe, and the moisture can escape.
  • Line up the packaging with paper towels. They will protect the berries from excess moisture buildup on the bottom. This step is optional, and only really worth it if you want to keep the fruits around for more than 4 – 5 days.
  • Protect blackberries from getting crushed. These fruits are soft and super easy to damage. Because of that, they need some sort of protection from that, usually in the form of a container.
Tip

For prolonged storage, you can either freeze the blackberries or make jam. Choose one that makes more sense for you.

Blackberries ready for picking
(credit: Shelley Pauls)

How To Freeze Blackberries

You’ve probably bought frozen blackberries more than once, so you know they freeze quite well. There are quite a few methods of freezing this fruit, some requiring more work than others.

Below I go through the most straightforward method that requires little hands-on time: dry freezing. If you’re interested in other ways of freezing blackberries, like sugar packing or syrup packing, check out the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association’s website (RBFR).

Here’s how to dry-freeze blackberries:

  1. Wash and dry. After draining the water, let the berries sit on paper towels for at least 15 to 30 minutes. After that, pat them dry. That’s important because you want to freeze berries, not berries and a bunch of water.
  2. Flash freeze the fruit. Place the blackberries in a single layer on a baking sheet in a way they don’t touch one another. Move the baking sheet into the freezer, and leave it there until solid.
  3. Transfer the frozen blackberries into containers or bags. Now that the berries are frozen, you can store them together and still be able to pick only a handful. If you’re using a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible before sealing it. If you like, add a label with name and date.
  4. Chuck the packed frozen berries back into the freezer.

Want to read more about flash-freezing in more detail? Check out our guide to flash freezing.

It’s best to use those frozen blackberries within about 6 to 8 months (RBFR), but they should stay okay in terms of quality for even longer.

When it comes to thawing, do it overnight in the fridge, or in lukewarm water if you’re short on time. Alternatively, if you’re using the blackberries in a smoothie, or cooking it on the stove, you can skip defrosting whatsoever.

Frozen berries
(credit: Devin Rajaram)

How Long Do Blackberries Last

Blackberries last about a day or two at room temperature. If it’s the middle of a hot summer and you leave them on the countertop overnight, chances are some of them will be on their way out in the morning.

If you refrigerate them and follow all the storage guidelines above, they can last up to a week. That, of course, depends on their quality, when they were harvested, and how long they were stored before you’ve bought them. Generally, try to use them within 3 to 5 days for the best quality and least spoiled or overripe specimens.

CountertopFridge
Blackberries1 – 2 days4 – 7 days

How To Tell If Blackberries Go Bad?

Fresh blackberries are blue-black, fairly uniform in color, and look plump. While they are soft, you wouldn’t call them mushy.

Gradually, they lose some of their color, and some of their bulbs aren’t plump anymore. They also become super squishy. Such berries, while not at the peak of their quality, are still okay to eat. Or add in a smoothie, a fruit salad, or make jam with.

When it comes to blackberries that you should definitely discard, here are the signs to look for:

  • Mold. Any signs of it means the fruit is done for.
  • Slime, oozing juice, or crushed. If it doesn’t seem like the bulbs have any liquid in them, or the fruit got crushed along the way, throw it out.
  • Off smell. Unlikely to happen, but if something is off when you give it a good sniff, that’s a no-no.

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