Do Strawberries Go Bad?

Strawberries are in season only for a couple of months every year, but when they are, they are cheap and plentiful. And if you find a good deal on them in the farmer’s market or one of those strawberry stands, it’s easy to buy way too much.

If you brought home twice as many strawberries as you can eat in a couple of days, you need to come up with a plan. Strawberries go bad fast, so that plan should include both how you will store them, and you’re going to eat them, so they won’t go to waste.

In this article, we cover storage, shelf life, and spoilage of strawberries. If you would like to learn a bit more about any of these topics, read on.

Strawberry in hand

How To Store Strawberries

When choosing strawberries, look for ones that are uniformly red, quite firm to the touch, and mold-free. If possible, ask to sample one from the bunch to make sure it’s good taste-wise (i.e., sweet).

Once you get home, there are some things about strawberries you need to remember:

  • Watch out for moldy ones. Mold spreads quickly between fruits, so it’s worth going over the bunch and getting rid of the spoiled ones. Repeat the process every day for best results, just like you do with blackberries.
  • Leave the berries as-is as long as possible. It might be tempting to prepare all of them by washing and removing the stems, but that’s a good idea only if you plan on eating all of them the same day. Otherwise, leave them unwashed and with stems to prolong their shelf life.
  • Make sure they won’t get crushed. Wherever you put them, make sure nothing is pressing onto them. Strawberries puncture and squeeze easily, so you need to be careful.

When it comes to where you should keep strawberries, it all depends on when you plan on eating them.

Strawberries container
Strawberries original container – best place to store them

If you plan on eating them right away or the same day you bought them, keeping them on the countertop is okay (just like it is for cherries). If they are supposed to retain quality until tomorrow, or even a couple of days later, the fridge is the way to go. Strawberries are not sensitive to chilling temperatures (CFSI), so there are no downsides to keeping them there.

The crisper drawer is the best place to keep strawberries. If they come in a plastic bag, transfer them carefully to a plastic container, possibly lined with paper towels to absorb moisture, so they don’t get crushed by other veggies in there.

Tip

If you need to keep the strawberries around for more than a few days, freeze them.

Strawberries topped jello dessert
Strawberries topped jello dessert

How To Freeze Strawberries

You’ve probably bought frozen strawberries more than once, so you know one can freeze them successfully. The whole process is quite straightforward. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Prep. Remove the stems, wash them, and let them dry thoroughly. Use paper towels to remove any water that’s still on the surface. Then halve or slice them if you like, although whole strawberries are perfectly fine too.
  2. Flash freeze. Take a baking sheet and lay the berries in a single layer in a way they don’t touch one another. Put the baking sheet into the freezer and leave there until everything freezes thoroughly. I usually leave it in the freezer overnight.
  3. Transfer frozen strawberries into a container or freezer bag. The extra layer will help protect the fruit from the temperature. Plus, using a freezer bag is much more convenient than keeping the baking sheet in the freezer at all times.

That’s it. The whole process takes only a couple of minutes, so there are no excuses for not doing it.

Strawberries closeup
Strawberries closeup

How Long Do Strawberries Last

Strawberries last about a day at room temperature. As I already mentioned, if you want to eat them tomorrow, it’s much better to refrigerate them. Many of them will live through the night on the countertop, but some will not, especially if the temperature is quite high.

When you keep the strawberries in the fridge, they last up to 7 days (CFSI). If you need longer than that, freezing is the way to go.

Warning

The shelf life of strawberries in the fridge depends on many circumstances, such as their quality, how crowded is the container, if there are any spoiled ones, etc. More often than not, some of the fruit will go bad much earlier. That’s why it’s important to go through them each day and discard the moldy and crushed ones.

CountertopFridge
Strawberries1 day4 – 7 days
Two jello desserts with strawberries
Two jello desserts with strawberries

How To Tell If Strawberries Are Bad?

Discard strawberries that are:

  • Moldy. Any signs of white or grey mold mean the specimen is spoiled.
  • Bruised, soft, or mushy. Soft strawberries are past their prime, and usually not that tasty.
  • Losing color. If they are losing color, they are stored for quite some time, and it’s probably better to toss them out.
  • Off smell. An off or “funny” smell is a sure sign the fruit is done for.

Besides the guidelines above, use common sense. If a specimen is only lightly punctured, it’s probably perfectly fine to eat it. Same thing if the strawberry has some green patches because it was picked early.

Discolored strawberry
Discolored and mushy strawberry, will probably grow mold in a day or so

Sources