Is there anything as delicious as the perfect, ripe summer strawberry? Unfortunately, these delicious berries have a very short shelf life. Unless you take immediate action, your gorgeous bowl of red jewels will turn into a pile of inedible mush.
Even though strawberries are quite delicate, there are many ways to store them to increase their shelf life.
How to store strawberries: Depending on their variety, you can leave strawberries at room temperature for about two days. There are different ways to store strawberries in the fridge, including slicing and sugaring them, placing them in vinegar first, or even just putting them on top of paper towel. Each method will preserve strawberries for one to seven days, depending on the method. If you want to prepare strawberries for the future, you can easily put them in the freezer where they will keep up to one year.
How do you store strawberries at home?
Before you start putting your strawberries away, here are a few important tips.
When strawberries are exposed to moisture, mold sets in much quicker. If you aren’t planning on eating your strawberries right away, it’s best not to wash them.
Unless you are engaging in a more elaborate storage method, unwashed strawberries have a longer lifespan.
The only exception is if there is a lot of dirt on your strawberries. In this case, you can gently brush the dirt off with a dry cloth.
Leaving the Stem
One important step when storing strawberries is to leave the stems on. Stemless strawberries allow moisture into the middle of the strawberry, and thus bacteria and mold are able to enter.
Leave the stems on your strawberries right until you plan on enjoying them.
Removing Moldy Strawberries
As soon as you take your strawberries home, you will want to sort through them. Despite the best efforts of grocers and farmers, strawberries can spoil quickly and there are usually a few berries that need to be removed.
Moldy strawberries will spread that mold to other berries they are in contact with. By removing one bad strawberry, you can preserve the rest of the basket.
Different Ways To Store Strawberries
Storing your strawberries in the fridge is the most common method. However, there are plenty of ways to go about doing this.
While most ways to store strawberries include some variation of storing them in the fridge, this is the most basic.
Once you have a basket of strawberries, take them all out and sort them to see if any have gone bad or not. Look for soft spots and mold growth.
Return all the strawberries that are still in good condition to the original container. Don’t cut them, remove any stems, or wash them.
If you process the strawberries, they will not last as long.
Even though this is a simple method, it actually works quite well and strawberries can last for about 4 to 5 days this way.
The key is to remove any strawberries that are starting to go bad. If left in the basket, they can spread to other strawberries, thus ruining the whole bunch.
Using paper towel to store your strawberries is one of the most common methods, but it is not necessarily the best one.
To start, simply sort through your fresh strawberries. Those that are good get a quick rinse off, mainly to get rid of any dirt.
Place paper towel on a bowl or container. Then, place the rinsed strawberries on top of this container.
They should not be cut or sliced if you want their shelf life to be better.
Using this simple method, your strawberries will last for 2 to 3 days. While some will last up to a week, more berries will start to rot before this time.
If you want, you can also check the paper towel each day. The purpose of it is to soak up moisture. If it is damp, you can replace it with clean towel to help increase the preservation time.
Rinsing strawberries in vinegar is a simple, if not overlooked, way to keep them fresh. You will need white vinegar for this method.
Start with a large bowl. Fill it with three parts water and one part white vinegar.
Do not cut your strawberries or remove their stems. Fully submerge your strawberries and then remove them to dry.
You want your strawberries to be completely dry before storing them. One way to achieve this is to line a salad spinner with paper towel and then place your strawberries inside.
Once they are dry, prepare a container by lining it with dry paper towel. Place the strawberries inside and put the lid on loosely. You want air and moisture to be able to escape, so don’t close the lid.
Then, you can put these strawberries in your fridge. They will last up to a week without any spoilage.
The vinegar kills any bacteria that is on the strawberries, so rot won’t set in for quite some time.
Hot Water Bath
Because mold is caused by bacteria, the key to keeping strawberries fresh is to eliminate any unwanted particles. An alternative to the vinegar method is to use hot water.
Start by heating a large pot of water. You want it to reach 125 F. This is just above simmering, but below a full boil.
As with the vinegar method, keep your strawberries whole and intact. You will, however, want to sort thought them to see if there are any rotten berries.
Dip each strawberry into the hot water and leave them there for 30 seconds. Once the time is up, take a slotted spoon and remove the strawberries.
You want to be gentle with the delicate berries, so don’t just pour them out into the sink.
Have a baking tray ready lined with paper towel. Place the strawberries on the tray and then place the tray in the fridge.
Remove the strawberries and place in a different container, preferably with a clean paper towel lined in it.
The hot water is supposed to kill any bacteria, but it isn’t quite as effective as the vinegar method.
While most strawberries will last for 3 to 4 days with this method, if you plan on keeping the strawberries for longer, expect a lot of spoilage.
Placing your strawberries in an airtight container is a very common method of preservation. You can use a Ziploc container or even a glass mason jar.
Make sure you don’t wash the strawberries or slice into them. Instead, simple move the strawberries from your carton into an airtight container and place the lid on tight.
The biggest factor to consider with this method is how many strawberries you have. If there are a lot, and you place them in a tall jar, the weight of the top strawberries will end up bruising the bottom ones.
If you have a lot of strawberries, consider using a larger, flatter airtight container. This way there is only one or two layers of strawberries.
When stored in an airtight container, strawberries can last for over a week.
Sliced and Sugar
If you’re trying to get a head start on a strawberry dessert, you can prep it up to one day in advance. To do so, start by washing your strawberries.
Remove the stems and then slice the strawberries about ¼ inch thick. Place them in an airtight container.
For every quart of strawberries you have, sprinkle ½ cup of sugar over top. Put the lid on tightly and store in the fridge.
Sliced and sugared strawberries will last up to 24 hours.
When you freeze strawberries, it’s all about preparation. Start with your fresh strawberries and then sort and wash them.
You can decide to freeze them whole or cut them in half, depending on what you will eventually use them for.
Once they have been prepared, place the strawberries on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Put the strawberries on a single layer so that when they freeze, they don’t stick to each other.
Put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least an hour. Once they are all frozen, you can transfer them to an airtight container.
The shelf life of frozen strawberries is about one year.
Strawberries can live for a day or two on your countertop but you definitely want to find a better method than this.
Room temperature strawberries are highly perishable. While they are still edible, once picked, strawberries will start to rot if not properly preserved.
This is especially true if you have purchased organic or local strawberries. Without any sprays, the strawberries won’t last more than a day at room temperature.
Strawberries are a delicious summer treat and you want to be able to enjoy them in all their ripe glory.
If you can’t eat your strawberries right away, you can freeze them for a later time, or leave them on the counter for a day or two.
There are also multiple ways you can refrigerate your strawberries so they will last throughout the week.