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No more mold on yer berries
August 27, 2009 5:52 PM   Subscribe

No more moldy berries. There are plenty of problems in the world but having your berries going moldy overnight is no longer one of them.
posted by storybored (45 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this where I sign up for BerryWatch?
posted by Countess Elena at 5:53 PM on August 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seriously, this is a great tip. I'd buy much more fruit if I didn't know that up to half of the purchasing unit would spoil before I was ready for it.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:55 PM on August 27, 2009


What about my twig?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 6:01 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does is work on feet too?
posted by danherwig at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2009


I must buy the super poisonous industrial waste blueberries and strawberries because I have been buying them all summer, and some of the sit the fridge for a week, but none have gotten moldy.
posted by 517 at 6:14 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had the same reaction as 517. Very few berries I get from the market (some organic, some not) go moldy before they are eaten in a few days.
posted by brain_drain at 6:24 PM on August 27, 2009


Are you guys (517 & brain_drain) living in a dry un-humid environment? The article didn't mention it, but I figure it's a factor(?)
posted by storybored at 6:24 PM on August 27, 2009


I've experienced this before. Down in Arkansas where my parents have retired, when it's blueberry season we go down and personally handpick out pounds of the stuff from a local farm. It's insanely cheap. Considering how much a grocery store box of blueberries costs compared to a handpicked basket, it seems almost like highway robbery.

Plus, it's consistently higher quality. I remember eating baskets of the stuff and not getting tired of its fresh taste. It did eventually go bad, but not as much as overnight. We'd pick lots of it and do things with it in a short span of time (hand eat, bake, etc.). It's truly a wonder how some people can go their whole lives just subsisting on the generally nasty fare that places like Safeway seem to offer. If you haven't gone and plucked the fruit from the tree and tried it yourself, you're missing out on a lot of things. Don't have the time? Ask a friend who does to pick a basket for you and give them some cash for the basket and time. Don't have the place to pick? Look harder, there might be a small local one or a family who grows lots of bushes and occasionally does sales.

I could do a rant on how Americans in general eat notsogood food, but TIME covered that for me nicely, I think. So yeah: eat it fresh. You won't regret it.

I'll try this method when the berries come back; although it's no miracle cure it would probably give us some breathing room to get creative with the berries.
posted by Askiba at 6:30 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read this earlier today and was kind of skeptical about using the technique on blueberries. Mine turn to mush if I do anything to them except leave them uncovered in a bowl on the countertop. I either have to eat them fresh or freeze them. Even though it has been very warm and humid here this summer, I have not had a mold problem as long as at least some air can get at them.
posted by Camofrog at 6:46 PM on August 27, 2009


Oh man, that totally reminds of picking blackberries on my grandma's farm. We probably ate as many as we brought back. They were gooood.
posted by scrutiny at 7:11 PM on August 27, 2009


I like getting the occasional little half-green blueberry in a box of grocery-store blueberries. It tastes like my grandmommy's house, where the kids would go out into her garden and gorge on the blueberry bushes. We didn't always pay much attention to whether the berries were ripe or not.
posted by dreamyshade at 7:19 PM on August 27, 2009


Millions of Strawberries by Genevieve Taggard
Marcia and I went over the curve,
Eating our way down
Jewels of strawberries we didn't deserve,
Eating our way down.
Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted,
And over us the hot day fainted,
And we saw snakes,
And got scratched,
And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched
Small buds of berries,
Till we lay down --
Eating our way down --
And rolling in the berries like two little dogs,
Rolled
In the late gold.
And gnats hummed,
And it was cold,
And home we went, home without a berry,
Painted red and brown,
Eating our way down.
Been a favorite poem of mine for years.
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Only slightly on topic here, but I think cold pasteurization, is some neat shit.

It would be nice if people wouldn't freak out at the thought of irradiated food, and bitch about moldy berries at the same time.
posted by fontophilic at 7:45 PM on August 27, 2009


O3/H2O fruit bath.
posted by hortense at 7:54 PM on August 27, 2009


Does anybody have a link that doesn't require registration to view?
posted by Dysk at 8:07 PM on August 27, 2009


I believe you'll find that "false" and "false" will work like a charm for you.
posted by hippybear at 8:21 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great tip. Thanks.

Cooking thermometer.

strawberries, raspberries and blackberries - 125 degrees for 30 seconds

blueberries - 140-degree for 30 seconds

Now that Manhattan is jeweled with dozens of marvelous, incredibly hardworking, Bangladeshi and Middle Eastern fruit vendors, selling produce at a third or half the price of the stores, this mold preventative method is an excellent thing to know. I think I might print out this information in a sort of a flyer and pass it on to the vendors, so they can inform their customers.
posted by nickyskye at 8:23 PM on August 27, 2009


This is just to say...

something about cold berries

and how I suck at poetry

forgive me
posted by desjardins at 8:33 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


hippybear, thanks, that worked a charm.

It took me a good few seconds to work out how the fuck she was heating water to well beyond its boiling point, and was still talking about submersing stuff in it. Then I remembered the illogical scourge that is Fahrenheit...
posted by Dysk at 8:33 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


The journey from field to packer to wholesaler to retailer to your kitchen can be a long, fraught one and what you eventually buy is often at the very end of it's life expectancy, as far as appearance and spoilage is concerned, often seemingly by design.
I you can't eat it soon, make jam or freeze it.

Nice poem, hippybear!
posted by islander at 8:55 PM on August 27, 2009


desjardins, that was charmingly pathetic.
posted by sixswitch at 9:01 PM on August 27, 2009


But the mold's the best part!
posted by mollywas at 9:22 PM on August 27, 2009


I read this yesterday and was so... ARGHHH!!... that it hadn't been printed about a month ago. Every August we pick almost 200 pounds of blueberries in Corbett, Oregon - especially the unusually and wonderfully tart variety Ivanhoe, fat as concord grapes, flavorful as a handful of Sweet Tarts - and it's a real race against time, decomposition and mold during the following week in order to get all the drying done. (Home made dried blueberries are just incredibly wonderful, esp compared to the greasy, sugared, bland and over priced things most people encounter at TJ's.) We'll definitely be using this trick next year. (Last year's trick was to briefly freeze the dried berries to kill any potential moth eggs; nothing like moth larvae in your stored pack of summer dried blueberries to horrify you and ruin your day)
posted by Auden at 10:32 PM on August 27, 2009


Is there any rational reason not to gamma irradiate produce to prevent micro-organism induced spoilage, other than the "omg, teh radiations!"?

There's probably economic and regulatory reasons, but remember the scene from 28 Days Later when they're at the grocery store and they find the unspoiled apples at the grocery store...
posted by porpoise at 10:43 PM on August 27, 2009


storybored, I live in the midwest. There is nothing especially dry about the climate. I buy the berries, throw them in the fridge, and don't wash them until just before I eat them. I didn't know berries molding was even a real problem.

Most of the berries in the mid-to-late summer are grown in the state though, so maybe shipping time makes a difference.
posted by 517 at 11:15 PM on August 27, 2009


"Is there any rational reason not to gamma irradiate produce to prevent micro-organism induced spoilage, other than the "omg, teh radiations!"

I can think of one. The anthocyanins in blueberries and grapes are there to protect the fruit from oxidation induced by UV light. If you gamma irradiate them you're going to oxidize a lot of those antioxidants, making them less effective against oxidation in the human body. I don't know how much of difference it would make, but it would change the fruit. Here's a paper, kind of, on the subject.
posted by 517 at 11:24 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


You see when everyone is talking about degrees here, they are talking about degrees faranheit, right?
posted by theyexpectresults at 12:55 AM on August 28, 2009


You see when everyone is talking about degrees here, they are talking about degrees faranheit, right?

Yes, Fahrenheit. Harold McGee is not advising you to put fresh berries in some kind of turbo steam cooker and bring them up to 140° Celsius.
posted by letourneau at 4:49 AM on August 28, 2009


One summer years ago we were living in the Blue Ridge in Virginia. We were broke. We had blackberries growing wild everywhere, and we ate them every day, at every meal. We decided to pick a bunch and sell them at the farmer's market in a town twenty miles away. We picked all afternoon, filled up the fridge. The next morning as we got ready to take the berries to town we were dismayed to discover they'd gone moldy.

For the next few weeks we got up before dawn on Saturday mornings to pick them and get them to town before they could mold. I'll never forget doing this with a baby on my back.
To this day I cannot stand blackberries.
posted by mareli at 6:07 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What an appallingly stupid idea. You are killing the enzymes in the raw berries by heating them. You're losing the health benefits. You're destroying fresh-grown produce with heat. This is idiotically defeating the purpose of eating raw fruit. Hey, why not do it with lettuce, too!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 6:52 AM on August 28, 2009


Berries don't last long enough in my home to grow mold. I swear I think I'm part bear. You should see what I do to salmon.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:05 AM on August 28, 2009


Thank goodness!
posted by Mister_A at 7:23 AM on August 28, 2009


HUZZAH!

I can taste a micron of mold, I swear to god. Bread and berries taste of mold to me a surprising amount of the time. I wanna jut get over it and eat with everyone else.

I especially hate ordering food in restaurants that has fresh berries (blackberries and raspberries being the worst offenders) because it's a guarantee that I will taste some mold on them and be unable to finish the meal and unwilling to talk the server into comping the dish.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:26 AM on August 28, 2009


OK, I stopped reading after the moron Harold McGee wrote this nonsense:
I found it hard to believe that any part of a plant could tolerate 145-degree water. My finger in the same water would get a third-degree burn in less than 5 seconds, and eventually reach medium rare.

I've been attempting to recreate medieval brewing for some time now. One of the key problems is the lack of a thermometer - amylase A & B are both very sensitive to heat. There's about a 10-degree range for each in which they are optimally active; above that, they rapidly denature.

So, I've trained myself to test temperatures in the useful zones - basically 140 - 170 deg F - by touch, and I tend to be accurate to better than +/-3 deg F.

140 deg F? You can comfortably leave your finger in the water for 5 seconds. That's actually my "flag" for that temperature.

And, why would he think "any part of a plant" couldn't survive hot water? Has he never blanched vegetables before?
posted by IAmBroom at 10:43 AM on August 28, 2009


IAmBroom: 140 deg F? You can comfortably leave your finger in the water for 5 seconds. That's actually my "flag" for that temperature.

Everywhere else, both in the thread and the article, people have been talking about 140 degrees. To me, and virtually everyone else outside the US, this parses as 284 degrees Fahrenheit, because degrees (without the Fahrenheit qualifier) is always Celsius.

So it could be a simple misunderstanding.
posted by Dysk at 11:08 AM on August 28, 2009


Good article. I just bought some strawberries and will have to try this out.
posted by reenum at 1:47 PM on August 28, 2009


What an appallingly stupid idea. You are killing the enzymes in the raw berries by heating them.

Yeah, did you know enzymes are proteins and get snipped up into destroyed pieces in your stomach anyway, c.f. you can't take insulin orally. And by the way I bet more enzymes than not can survive heating to 125 F, especially since if you read the article he mentions that tomatoes get heated to similar temperatures by the sun.
posted by molybdenumblue at 3:15 PM on August 28, 2009


Harold McGee and "appallingly stupid"... I'm voting no on that association.
posted by bz at 4:14 PM on August 28, 2009


The difference between a tomato getting heated to similar temperatures by the sun? The friggin' thing is still connected to its parent plant. Still alive. The berries in your plastic container? Holding on for the last bit afforded by your icebox thingy.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:26 PM on August 28, 2009


gorgor_balabala: "What an appallingly stupid idea. You are killing the enzymes in the raw berries by heating them. You're losing the health benefits. You're destroying fresh-grown produce with heat. This is idiotically defeating the purpose of eating raw fruit. Hey, why not do it with lettuce, too!"

You're right. It's better to let them go moldy and throw them away.

It's a short amount of time at a not very high temperature. I'm not sure that the times he recommends are long enough to really heat the core of the fruit (especially if you've had them in the refrigerator for a bit first). Besides, like molybdenumblue said, the hot water isn't going to do anything to the fruit that your stomach acid isn't going to do anyway. The idea is far from stupid, let alone appallingly so.
posted by squarehead at 12:36 PM on August 29, 2009


What's the matter with scrubbing out the sink, filling it with cold water, pouring in a cup of (unscented) bleach, and dumping the blueberries in for a good wash? Drain & refill the sink, toss out the floaters, and sort through the remainder. Give 'em another good rinse, and they're good for a couple weeks in the fridge.

I imagine H2O2 would do a similarly good job of killing the surface bacteria and molds.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:44 PM on August 29, 2009


I'm not sure that the times he recommends are long enough to really heat the core of the fruit (especially if you've had them in the refrigerator for a bit first).
Well, you certainly don't soundsure. And, I'll settle for plain ol' "stupid idea" if you'll agree with me that there's a good reason for eating fresh as opposed to processed foods once in a while.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:06 AM on August 30, 2009


I guess we just have very different idea of what qualifies food to be characterized as "processed" in a pejorative way.
posted by squarehead at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2009


Brother Dysk:
Everywhere else, both in the thread and the article, people have been talking about 140 degrees. To me, and virtually everyone else outside the US, this parses as 284 degrees Fahrenheit, because degrees (without the Fahrenheit qualifier) is always Celsius.

So it could be a simple misunderstanding.


Nowhere on earth is 140-degree Celsius water something that you can immerse fruit and vegetables in. 140-degree Celsius water is called "steam".

Ergo, the 140-degrees are clearly in Fahrenheit.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:03 PM on September 1, 2009


IAmBroom, if you read my first comment in this thread, that's the exact logic I used to arrive at the fact this post and article used bizzare units (Fahrenheit). However, I was pointing out a potential source of misunderstanding.

Nowhere on earth is 140-degree Celsius water something that you can immerse fruit and vegetables in.

Actually, you can do that anywhere on earth with about three and a half bar of pressure. A good pressure cooker could maybe do that.
posted by Dysk at 6:31 AM on September 2, 2009


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