In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can you eat blueberries without washing them?” and discuss the risks associated with eating unwashed blueberries.
Read on to know the different ways to properly wash your blueberries.
Can you eat blueberries without washing them?
NO! You should not eat blueberries without washing them. Eating unwashed blueberries poses a risk of ingesting pathogenic bacteria that comes from the soil, or pesticides applied to blueberries during cultivation. You might even end up eating bugs as well that were harvested along with the blueberries.
Washing fresh blueberries with tap water helps to remove any dirt and harmful bacteria that may be present on the blueberries.
How to wash blueberries?
Blueberries should only be washed if you intend to eat them right after. Otherwise, excess water can lead to early spoilage of already fragile blueberries.
You should not hold the blueberries directly under tap water since the pressure of the water can make blueberries squishy. Also, excess water can cause blueberries to get mushy.
Alternatively, fill a large container with cold water, then gently place the blueberries in a strainer and submerge it in the water bath. This allows a homogeneous wash that protects the blueberries’ flesh.
Next, transfer the berries to an airtight container (large enough to lay the blueberries flat in a single layer) lined with a paper towel and place them in the fridge.
While washing blueberries in water is a good approach to get rid of visible dust and soil, there is a way that will ensure a more reliable wash.
As blueberries grow in the soil and have permeable, soft flesh, dust that gets trapped may go unnoticed even after a quick wash.
To ensure that blueberries are perfectly clean, dip them briefly in a mixture of three parts water and one part distilled white vinegar. This method not only cleanses the blueberries thoroughly but also prolongs their shelf life. Pat dry softly but thoroughly on a paper or cloth towel.
Soaking the blueberries in a mixture of vinegar and water is not a good practice, as blueberries will begin to absorb the vinegar flavour.
Why is it important to wash blueberries before eating?
Blueberries can become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria at different levels. Throughout the growing phase, blueberries can become contaminated through:
- animal contact
- Poisonous substances in soil or water
- poor cleanliness
Blueberries can also become contaminated after harvesting. Even in our homes, they can become contaminated due to improper storage and during handling.
The risks of eating unwashed blueberries
As fresh blueberries grow in the soil and water, they will naturally be exposed to microorganisms.
Some harmful bacteria that may be present on fresh blueberries include Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and Shigella.
Among them, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella are the most common bacteria that have been associated with foodborne diseases.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. In severe cases, food poisoning may result in kidney failure, meningitis and even death
Individuals who are immunocompromised or have immature immune systems, as well as children younger than five years old and pregnant women are most at risk of developing foodborne illness from eating unwashed blueberries.
So yes, it is fruitful to take additional precautions and wash your blueberries.
When to wash blueberries?
Blueberries should not be washed as soon as they are brought home, rather wash them only if you intend to eat them right after.
Washing blueberries in advance will cause them to go bad faster due to the added moisture which allows the mould to grow faster. The faster the mould grows, the faster the blueberries will get spoiled. Therefore, wash your blueberries a few mins before you eat them.
Can blueberries be cleaned with dish soap or detergent?
No, it is not recommended by the FDA and CDC to wash blueberries with soap or detergent as these products can leave residues behind. While they may eliminate any pesticide deposits, you will also probably be getting some of the residual soap or detergent itself which you certainly do not want.
How to store blueberries?
If you are planning to eat your blueberries within a few days, store the unwashed blueberries in the refrigerator, keeping them loosely covered, in a single layer. Loading them over one another can mash the berries. Blueberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat blueberries without washing them?”. Moreover, we have discussed the risks associated with eating unwashed blueberries as well as the different ways to properly wash your blueberries.