Picking your own berries is one of the great joys of summertime, and nothing takes a meal to the next level like some fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. We wait all year for them, so that makes it extra sad when we open our refrigerator only a few days after putting them away to find our berries going soft or even – ew! – growing mold. For a long time we thought our only solution was to try to eat them even faster, but then Food52 came along to teach us how to use a common household staple to extend the lifespan of nature’s candy.

What’s the secret ingredient? Vinegar! Food52 explains:

It might seem counterintuitive to wash your berries before you’re ready to eat them. One of the cardinal rules of keeping berries mold-free is to leave them unwashed until the moment before consumption. But by washing your berries in a solution of vinegar and water, you can extend their shelf-life by days (sometimes even weeks!). [. . .] The vinegar will eliminate any pesky mold and bacteria.

Genius! Combined with proper storage, you’ll never have your heart broken by berries again.

Here’s the Step-by-Step Method:

  1. Prepare a “berry bath” by mixing 1 cup of vinegar with 3 cups of water.
  2. Dunk your berries in the bath.
  3. Place the berries in a colander and run under cool running water.
  4. Drain the berries in the colander.
  5. Dry your berries thoroughly. Line a salad spinner with 3 layers of paper towels to create a pillow, then spin your berries for 15 seconds, until completely dry.
  6. To store, grab a container where the berries won’t crowd each other and line it with paper towels. Leave the lid partially open.

There you go! Do you have any tips to add? Have you ever washed berries in vinegar before? How do you keep your berries from going bad?