We’ve all been there: a family trip to a strawberry field, hours of fun, and plenty of berries to be enjoyed. But a few days later, when you reach your hands into the basket, they’re all rotten and mushy. And is there anything more heartbreaking than finding out something you poured your heart and soul into, whether that’s the growing or picking process, has gone off in only a few days?
So, what should you do when storing strawberries? Fortunately, this guide has found all the best tips and tricks to keep your freshly picked berries in tip-top condition, so you can enjoy them for weeks to come, down to the very last plump and juicy berry. You’ll also find some ideas for prepping your berries so you can enjoy them to their fullest potential.
Tools You’ll Need for Storing Strawberries
While harvesting strawberries requires a few more tools, the items you need for storing strawberries are basic and are likely something you’ve already got in your kitchen! Check them out below.
- Ventilated container with a lid
- Paper towel
- Saran wrap
- Freezer containers or bags
Storing Strawberries: A List of Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Refrigerate for Storing Strawberries
If there’s one thing you should always do with freshly picked strawberries, it’s to refrigerate them! You should keep them around 35 degrees Fahrenheit to help them stay fresh longer. Warmer climates can cause strawberries to dry out and shrivel up, which isn’t optimal when you expect a juicy bite.
Strawberries will do fine on the counter for a few days (if it’s not too hot), especially if you’re going to eat them and use them up quickly. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with keeping them cool in the fridge.
Don’t: Wash Immediately
One common mistake that many people make is washing their berries too quickly. While you may be tempted to wash the whole batch and then store them in your fridge, it’s better to wait until you’re going to eat them. This goes for all fruits and veg. Moisture causes strawberries (and other fruits) to rot more quickly, which is the opposite of the intended effect.
Soaking strawberries in water too far before you intend to eat them can also remove the nutrients and flavor. So, it’s best to do this directly before using them.
Do: When Storing Strawberries, Keep Them Whole
Cut-up fruit seems great in theory; it’s easy to grab from the fridge, ready for snacking or adding to the kids’ lunches. But, in reality, it will dry out your strawberries, removing the sweet flavor we all look forward to. Instead, it’s best to keep your strawberries whole.
Do: Store Damaged or Sliced Berries Properly
On the contrary, you should store damaged or sliced berries in the fridge. Pat the strawberries dry, place them in a seal tight container and pop them in the fridge to keep them fresh a little longer. This is why it is recommended to keep your strawberries whole until your ready to use them, they’ll last longer.
It’s also important to leave the stems intact. The center of the strawberry is prone to mold, so cutting it or removing the stems can be dangerous to your health. If you do cut up your strawberries and don’t finish them all, it might be best to freeze them (more on that later).
You should quickly remove damaged or rotten strawberries from the batch because they can cause the other berries to rot faster. Keep an eye on your container and fish out the unruly berries whenever necessary.
Do: Ventilated Containers for Storing Strawberries
Another mistake many strawberry-lovers make is placing them in airtight containers. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, the truth is that moisture and strawberries are not friends. It’s best to keep your fruits in ventilated containers with a perforated lid. Colanders and open weave baskets are a great option, and you can easily use saran wrap on top.
Another tip is to keep a paper towel at the bottom of the container. It will soak up any extra moisture, helping your berries stay fresh for longer. If you did happen to cut the berries, opt for an airtight container instead to halt the chance of bacteria or mold growth.
Do (Optional): Freeze
If you don’t think you’ll eat your strawberries before they go bad, freezing them is a great option. Use freezer containers or bags to store the berries. Also, you may want to mix them with a bit of sugar to help the berries maintain their sweetness. Seal the bags or containers, and you’ll be good to grab them whenever you want!
How to Prepare Strawberries
It’s best to prepare and eat strawberries the same day–it helps them stay fresh and juicy, making them perfect for toppings to your favorite desserts. Place your berries in a colander and rinse with cool water. Some people like to add a DIY solution of water, vinegar, and lemon juice, but that is optional.
Then, simply remove the caps and stems by twisting them off or with a sharp knife. Slice your strawberries and eat, cook, or decorate with them as you please!
To Sum Up
If you’ve got some freshly picked strawberries, all you have to worry about now is enjoying them! Keeping them fresh is as easy as proper refrigeration and containers, so it’s no hassle at all. One important thing to remember is that you should never wash or cut strawberries unless you intend to eat or freeze them right away!
Now that you’ve read up on how to store your freshly picked strawberries, you may be interested in growing a plant of your own. For more info, check out these useful DIY strawberry planter ideas.