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Anyone tried McGee's hot water bath for fresh berries?

rainey Sep 12, 2009 10:41 AM

Read the article below?

Harold McGee tried giving a variety of fresh berries 30 second hot water baths before he stored them. He did this based on scientific research and concluded, as the researchers had, that this method significantly improves the berries' ability to resist mold. He even said in one case existing mold on a damaged berry disappeared overnight.

Now the thing is, he doesn't really say how the flavor and texture of the fresh berries were after this. So I'm curious if anyone's tried it and how they felt about the results. Do the berries still taste and look fresh?

Here's the NYT article if anyone wants to learn more:

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  1. goodhealthgourmet RE: rainey Sep 12, 2009 11:35 AM

    i read the article in the paper that day and thought it was fascinating! though i haven't tried the method myself yet, there was a letter in this week's Science Times from a reader who did, and said it worked like a charm. no mention of any changes in flavor or texture.

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
      rainey RE: goodhealthgourmet Sep 12, 2009 05:40 PM

      Thanks for that info.

      I guess it's a little late in the summer to be reading the technique now. I hope I'll remember it next summer.

      1. re: rainey
        goodhealthgourmet RE: rainey Sep 13, 2009 07:54 AM

        "I hope I'll remember it next summer."
        i said the same thing! perhaps one of us *will* remember, and post a reminder...

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
          greygarious RE: goodhealthgourmet Sep 13, 2009 09:49 AM

          I wrote it down in my little red notebook of cooking tips. Now where do I write the note to remind myself to check the red notebook?.....

    2. Caitlin McGrath RE: rainey Sep 12, 2009 08:32 PM

      I have not tried it, but when I read it, I thought, has he tried storing his berries in a glass jar? Seriously, you learn great things on Chowhound, and one of the umpteen I've learned over the years is that storing unwashed berries in a glass jar with a tight lid majorly extends their keeping.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
        rainey RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 13, 2009 09:07 AM

        I'm going to make a point to try that too.

        But, if I understand his article correctly, it's mold already present on the thin skins of the berries that causes the problem. It's these that the hot water bath purports to eliminate. I can see that a sealed glass jar would eliminate new mold spores but how would it inhibit ones already present?

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
          sarah galvin RE: Caitlin McGrath Sep 13, 2009 01:24 PM

          The glass jar works like magic. I learned about it on Chowhound. I don't think there is any way of 'blanching' berries and retaining their original texture. I won't be doing it.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath
            chowser RE: Caitlin McGrath Jul 8, 2010 11:36 AM

            I do it in Tupperware but also learned it on Chowhound. I was skeptical at first but amazed at how well it works.

          2. scuzzo RE: rainey Sep 13, 2009 10:49 AM

            I want to know your results!!!

            3 Replies
            1. re: scuzzo
              rainey RE: scuzzo Jul 8, 2010 10:47 AM

              I know it's almost a year later but I have been using this technique since then with ENORMOUS success. In fact, I was just going to write to a friend after I had a lovely raspberry that I bought at Costco a week ago (had to google a link to the original article and this came up ;>) .

              In addition to the hot water bath, I've learned that it's important to dry the berries off again. In the case of the large quantities of raspberries & blueberries I'm now regularly buying at Costco, I simply keep the empty containers. When I buy new ones, I run the open containers under a spray of hot tap water. I close the containers and drain what water I can. Then I transfer them to an empty dry container with a folded paper towel in the bottom and store them in the veggie drawer of my fridge open for the remaining water to evaporate.

              I enjoy berries all through their fresh season without the guilt and disappointment of throwing out moldy berries. And I can buy 36 oz of raspberries at the Costco price with is roughly equivalent to the price of 6 oz at the grocery store or farmers market and enjoy them all!

              1. re: rainey
                sparkareno RE: rainey Jul 8, 2010 11:50 AM

                But with raspberries don't they hold the water in their little indentations? I keep strawberries in a glass jar but didn't think of doing it w/blueberries or raspberries. I just don't think you could dry off the raspberries well enough. But you keep them uncovered? Seems contradictory to the jar method.

                1. re: sparkareno
                  nomadchowwoman RE: sparkareno Nov 5, 2010 08:58 AM

                  Coming in late, I know, but I wanted to say that I've been doing this w/raspberries ever since I read the McGee article. After dunking them in hot water I put the berries, spaced well apart, on a couple of paper towels laid on a wire rack until they dry thoroughly, usually an hour or so. When they're dry, I transfer them to a glass jar (where they sit on top of each other), close the lid, and store them in the fridge. Maybe overkill, but it works. I've never had to throw them away since. I, too, was very skeptical about this method, and almost every time I've told people about this method, theyhave the reaction I had--mostly don't believe that the berries must have lost texture or color. But it works!

            2. Hank Hanover RE: rainey Jul 8, 2010 12:15 PM

              I haven't tried it but I would think a tiny bit of vinegar in the water would help too. I would certainly think it would attack mold and mold spores.

              Of course it might tend to bleach out the colors a little too especially for the blueberries.

              But it might be worth the experiment.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Hank Hanover
                rainey RE: Hank Hanover Jul 8, 2010 07:43 PM

                Experiment away! But I haven't needed anything but the hot water that washes away whatever surface spores and imparts no flavor and reduces no flavor.

                The hot water wash does change the color of fresh blueberries to a dark, dark blue without their haze, but the characteristic haze seems to come back in a few days.

              2. biondanonima RE: rainey Jun 17, 2011 09:14 AM

                Just bumping this thread since a friend of mine on Facebook was lamenting her moldy raspberries. Berries never hang around long enough chez moi to get moldy, but others may find this useful!

                1. x
                  xiaobao12 RE: rainey May 31, 2013 12:33 PM

                  thanks for posting this.

                  I just bought 10 pints of organic blueberries from Whole Foods ($2 pint sale).

                  I intend on consuming a few pints and freezing the rest.

                  Do you guys recommend the hot water cleanse and then freeze? or should I just wash them normally, dry and then freeze?


                  1. Bryan Pepperseed RE: rainey Jun 1, 2013 05:31 AM

                    Since I can't remember if I've posted this on any similar threads, and as long as this one's been bumped......

                    Not only do I do the McGee method for berries, I've (based on his theory) recently been experimenting with "washing" most of my produce first with hot water from the tap for about a minute or so, then giving it a "rinse" with cold. It could be my imagination, but not only does it seem to add "shelf life", it seems to revive or rejuvinate many items better than my previous cold water only method - broccoli and cauliflower really seem to like it.

                    1. y
                      youareabunny RE: rainey Jun 1, 2013 07:49 AM

                      Thanks so much for bringing this thread back. I have been sorting my berries, removing any soft or somewhat moldy ones, and washing the rest in acidulated water and then drying them, then storing in the refrigerator.I will give this hot-water method a try

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