Cranberries are a versatile fruit that can be used for making juice, puree, baking, or added to a meal for an added flavors. These berries are seasonal which means you can only find fresh ones during the colder season. Since these berries are highly perishable, most will wonder if cranberries can go bad.
Do cranberries go bad? Yes, cranberries can go bad. Unlike most other fruits, once it’s harvested, cranberries need to be constantly stored in a cool temperature setting. Otherwise, they will start going bad quickly. The best place to store cranberries will be either the refrigerator or the freezer. The fridge is for cranberries that will be used within a couple of weeks, while the freezer is for cranberries that need longer storage time.
How Long Do Cranberries Last?
Cranberries are one of those fruits that need constant refrigeration. With the cool temperature, the cranberries will go bad very quickly.
At room temperature, cranberries will last for a couple of hours. If the room temperature is extremely hot, expect it to last no longer than an hour. After that time, it’ll start going soft and mushy. If you’re planning on using cranberries to make jam or desserts, it should be fine. For eating it fresh, it will not be very tasty.
In the fridge, it will depend on how you bought them. If you bought them in bulk, storing them in an open bag, they will last for about 2 weeks.
If you’ve bought them bagged and place them in a freezer bag, they will last for about a month in the refrigerator.
How To Tell When Cranberries Go Bad
Cranberries are highly perishable and exposure to heat will make them go bad quickly. For them to remain fresh, they need constant refrigeration.
As they start to go bad, cranberries will start showing signs of spoilage. Below are some of the signs you should look for:
Appearance – Fresh quality cranberries will be firm to the touch. When they are bad, the cranberries will be soft and mushy. Also, the skin of the cranberries starts to shrivel. At this point, you may still have time to use them or freeze them.
However, if the cranberries have mold growing on them, discard the berries.
Color – When the cranberries start going bad, they will become dark in color. Some parts of it may be darker than others. If that’s the case, you’ll still be able to use it. If it’s dark all around, it’s best to throw them away.
How To Store Cranberries?
At room temperature, you can store the cranberries in a bowl of cold water. This will help keep them firm and not lose moisture. Cranberries need constant cool temperature so if you’re not going to use them within an hour, place it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, they’ll become very soggy and will lose its flavor.
In the fridge, if you bought bagged cranberries, place them into the crisper section of the fridge. If the bag has been opened, you’ll need to transfer them to an airtight container or a freezer bag.
For fresh cranberries being stored in the fridge, whether you’ve picked them yourselves or from the grocery stores, always place them into an airtight container or freezer bag. Even though the temperature in the fridge is cool, they may go bad due to the loss of moisture. By keeping them in a container or bag, it will help retain the moisture in the cranberries.
Can You Freeze Cranberries?
Due to their texture and high moisture content, cranberries can be frozen and they freeze quite well too.
To freeze cranberries and to help retain their texture and flavor, it’s best to flash freeze them first. Flash freezing them will also prevent the berries from sticking to each other while it’s frozen.
To prepare cranberries for the freezer using the flash freezing method, follow the simple instructions below:
- Give the cranberries a good thorough cleaning. This will remove any debris and pests that may be on the berries.
- Then place it in a colander for about 20-30 minutes to let it drip dry. Using a paper towel, gently press on the cranberries to remove any excess water.
- On a clean tray, place a layer of baking or wax paper on it.
- Spread the cranberries over the entire paper keeping them spaced out. If some of the berries touch each other, it should be fine.
- Place it into the freezer for about 2-3 hours or until it’s completely frozen.
- Once it’s frozen, immediately transfer the berries to an airtight container or freezer bag.
- If you’re using a freezer bag, make sure to press out any excess air in the bag before sealing it.
- Label the bag or container with a date and place it back into the freezer.
Whenever you need to use cranberries, simply take as much out of the container and place the rest back in the freezer.
Related Article: Can you freeze dried cranberries
How To Defrost Cranberries
When you’re ready to use the cranberries, defrosting them is not needed. Due to their texture, the berries will thaw quite quickly once it’s exposed to warm temperature.
You can simply take them out from the freezer and add the berries to the food you’re cooking. This goes the same for smoothie drinks, desserts, and dipping sauces.
Before using the frozen cranberries, make sure to wash them thoroughly first. Transfer them from the freezer and into a colander and run it under cold water for about 20 seconds. Then you can eat it fresh, add it to your favorite meal, or use it to enhance the flavors of foods.
How To Keep Cranberries Fresh Longer
When buying cranberries, they should be the freshest ones. These will be the ones that are just harvested.
However, since they don’t have an expiration date on them, it will be difficult to tell how fresh they are.
Before buying cranberries, inspect them first. Look at the appearance and see if there are any blemishes or dark spots on them. Grab a few and gently press on it. Good quality cranberries will be firm to the touch. Bad ones or those about to go bad will be soft.
For frozen cranberries, there should be an expiration date printed on the package. Try to get the ones that have the farthest date from the expiration date. This will ensure they have the longest shelf life.
Fresh cranberries are firm and can handle a little pressure. However, as the berries get older, they will be very delicate to handle.
To keep them from getting damaged, don’t keep too much of them in a container. About 30-40 cranberries should be enough to prevent the bottom from getting damaged.
Do dried cranberries go bad?
Yes, dried cranberries can go bad. Most people assume that dehydrated fruits don’t go bad. The process of dehydrating fruits will only help extend their shelf life. Once the bag is opened, the dried cranberries are exposed to the air which will start to oxidate them. Therefore, after opening the bag, keep them in the fridge when not in use.
Does cranberry juice go bad?
Yes, cranberries juice does go bad. The juice needs to be refrigerated at all times. If it’s been sitting at room temperature for a prolonged time, the cranberry juice will start to spoil.
Does cranberry sauce go bad?
Yes, cranberry sauce does go bad. The sauce will need to refrigerated at all times when not in use. Leaving them out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours could cause them to start going bad.