With the holidays looming, you may wonder about cranberries and their shelf life. These sour cherry-like fruits pack a punch, and with so many sold in the US each year, is it possible to freeze them? Can you make your cranberries stretch from thanksgiving to Christmas?
There are 400 million tons of cranberries sold in the US annually, with 20% of that number sold for the Thanksgiving holidays. Many people swear they are a superfood! Not only do cranberries enhance turkey flavors, but they also pack a punch in vitamins and minerals.
This article dives into the fruit that thrives in wet bog land. Although many consider it a superfood, it has a short shelf life, but can it be extended by freezing?
We will answer many frequently asked questions providing you with factual information.
Let’s dive in.
Do cranberries expire?
Cranberries do go bad, much like other fruits, but this winter fruit has something that will keep it good for at least a few weeks.
The way you store them and their condition when you buy them will affect how long cranberries survive. Did you choose fresh or dried cranberries, in other words?
Guess what if you keep cranberries out on the side in a fruit bowl? They are not going to last for very long. But if you place them in the freezer in the crisper drawer, they may last for up to a month, which is good for a winter crop of fruit.
For about two weeks, fresh berries in bulk can be stored in the refrigerator in an open bag. When they are bagged, they last longer, but if you open the bag, don’t plan on getting them for more than two weeks.
If you check and remove the bad berries, you can retain them for longer than two weeks.
Make sure to look for the date, typically stamped on the label of pre-packaged cranberries.
Red fruits can frequently last a few days after that date, but don’t anticipate much in the way of quality. Your berries will become softer the longer you wait.
The first thing to keep in mind is that cranberries are inherently tart and lip-puckering sour, but that doesn’t mean you should toss them. Even if you might not enjoy the flavor of raw berries, you can mask the tartiness by making cranberry sauce or juice.
Fresh berries have a crisp, glossy skin and a tart flavor. They may be crimson or yellowish-red, but they are always smooth if fresh. Although they aren’t as smooth after drying, the color usually stays the same.
Do cranberries need to be refrigerated?
It’s essential to keep cranberries in the fridge. Remember, they are a winter crop, and it is cold outside, and they have thrived in these conditions.
It’s best to keep cranberries cold. If you purchased them in a plastic bag, you could keep them while storing your fridge’s crisper drawer. Simply transfer items in a brown paper bag from the farmers market into an airtight container or zip-top bag.
It’s vital to pick out the rotten or damaged cranberries so they don’t spoil the others.
Cranberries can also be frozen in their original plastic packaging, as well as in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag.
Cooked cranberries should be stored in the fridge. Theft will last approximately 14 days, depending on the storage method and the amount of sugar used in the cranberry sauce.
Do cranberries have to be covered in the fridge?
It is advisable to cover the cranberries in the fridge. Covered cranberries do last longer. However, it pays to keep a check on cranberries that are stored in the fridge. Removing the cranberries that have been damaged during harvesting will help the shelf life of the fresh cranberries.
You can store cranberries in the original bag from the farmers market or place them in an air-tight container. Ziploc bags work well for storage and inspection of the little berries. Place them in the crisper for the longest life.
Can you put warm cranberries in the fridge?
It is not advisable, but sometimes you may not have a choice.
If you read online that you can’t put warm cranberries in the fridge because of condensation coalescing into water droplets that will drip and make your cranberries soggy and less appealing at best, why can’t put the warm cranberries in the fridge, you are being misled.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm cranberries in the fridge will elevate their temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your cranberries. It is the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
Furthermore, the cranberries should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation!
If you are out of time, wrap the cranberries container in a towel to act as insulation to prevent the fridge from heating dramatically.
How long can warm-cooked cranberries sit out?
Two hours. Remember the food danger zone? According to the USDA, perishable goods sitting out for two hours should be discarded, and the bacteria growth on the food has multiplied rapidly, making the food unfit for consumption.
Eating food sitting out for two hours or more could cause food poisoning.
Do unopened cranberries go bad?
What is the shelf life of cranberry sauce? The shelf life of canned cranberry sauce is at least 1-2 years after the expiration date.
The best-by date, the method of preparation, and the way the cranberry sauce is stored are just a few variables that affect how long cranberry sauce will last.
How long do cranberries last in the fridge?
These little berries last longer than you may think, but it depends on how they are stored. Assuming the fridge is at 40℉, and the cranberries are fresh from the farmer’s market in their original packaging, they should last for a month.
Cranberries like to be cold, a winter crop, so storing them in the fridge is obvious. But storing them in airtight bags is a good choice. If you inspect the cranberries weekly for rogues that have got crushed or turned bad, you can remove them quickly.
Homemade cranberry sauce can be kept in the fridge for 10 to 14 days if it is kept in a covered glass or plastic container.
Do frozen cranberries go bad?
Not yearly. Cranberries freeze well. They are a winter crop and are adapted to colder extremes than other fruits.
The good news is that cranberries can be frozen for a year to 18 months without losing the berries’ structure and tart flavor. Beyond that, the berry will start to degrade, but it will take a long time.
If the cranberries turn mushy in the freezer, it’s a bonus and will assist with the cooking process.
How to freeze cranberries
- Despite cranberries being harvested from the water, they still need to be cleaned and can have some muddy deposits as they grow in boggy brackish water. Rinse and clean the cranberries thoroughly.
- Place the cranberries in a container where they can drip dry. A colander is ideal. Let the berries drop for 20 minutes; it’s best to freeze the fruit when it is dry.
- Pour out the cranberries on the kitchen towel and continue drying the berries.
- Line a tray with parchment paper and pour the berries on the paper. You may need to do this part in batches.
- Place the berries in the freezer to flash freeze. This may take a couple of hours.
- Once the flash freezing is complete, rough the berries so they separate, making retrieving the number of berries you need from the freezer easy.
- Place the cranberries into Ziploc-style bags, and fill to about two inches below to opening.
- Remove as much of the air in the freezer bag as possible by gently expelling the air with your fingers. When done, seal the bag. This process will prevent freezer burn.
- Mark the bags with the contents and freezing date. The expiration date is going to be one year.
- Place the bag in the freezer.
How to defrost cranberries?
Don’t worry about defrosting cranberries. They will thaw quickly, so go from freezer to pot.
Cranberries are hardly little berries and have a decent shelf life in the fridge. If you have many cranberries, it is easy to store them in the freezer to use them for the next holiday and the one after.