There is nothing more discouraging than buying good food and having it go bad before you get to eat it. Oregon's berry season is just getting started with local, small and super sweet strawberries hitting the stores and farmers markets. Now is the time to enjoy them! But you certainly don't want them to mold quickly, which berries tend to do.

Never fear! There is an all-natural way to make sure that they stay fresh and mold-free for much longer. The main issue is how to kill the mold spores present on berries using something food safe (that also doesn't affect the taste). It turns out that vinegar is the solution!

Vinegar is not only a delicious ingredient to use in the kitchen; it is also a natural fungicide. In fact, it is used in organic home gardening in diluted form to help with fungus issues on roses and other plants. 

But it is also a great weapon to use against mold spores on berries. Just don't use it undiluted because that will be unnecessarily strong and flavor the berries as well.

The recommended dilution of the vinegar varies from a 1-part vinegar to 3-part water, to 1-part vinegar to 10-parts water. Since there have been reports of both the stronger solution and the weaker solution working very well, I'm planning on going with the weaker version. You can use the stronger solution to wash off produce in general.

You can use whatever vinegar you like — most use plain and cheap white vinegar. I recommend using an organic apple cider vinegar, as you avoid genetically modified foods that way, as well as pesticides. Simply place berries in a bowl, cover with the vinegar/water mixture, give a quick and gentle swish to make sure that all of the berries were thoroughly washed, and then drain and very gently dry (or air dry).

My only problem? We eat our berries so fast, it's hard to say how long the berries last with this method because ours just don't stick around! However, on the blogosphere, people are reporting raspberries lasting a week (instead of 24 hours) and strawberries even lasting for two weeks after a vinegar rinse.

Try it out, and let me know how it works for you!

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