How to know if strawberries are bad?

How Things Rot

March 27, 2018

At one point or another, you’ve probably opened your refrigerator and been hit with a fetid smell that you quickly learn belongs to a bag of lettuce that is now limp and watery. After finding the culprit of that ostentatious stench, you gingerly pick it up by its wrapping and place it straight into the garbage bin.

From there, that rotting lettuce is picked up by your municipal refuse handlers and taken to a landfill, where it continues its decomposition along with everything else—the wrapping it was thrown out in, the milk carton you emptied the night before, the old T-shirt that you found a hole in, and the trash bag that it was all stuffed into.

At that point, it’s out of your view and potentially out of your thoughts. But, that bag of trash has a long life ahead of it. A life that greatly contributes to global climate change. As you clean up and clean out this spring, keep the following in mind:

How Living Stuff Rots

Organic matter (that is, anything that was once living), like lettuce, naturally rots. When the rot happens “in the wild” it is wonderful for the environment. Rot, or decomposition, is the natural biological process of breaking down complex molecules into simpler forms. As this natural breakdown occurs, there are a number of products created: carbon dioxide (CO2), most of which is released into the air where it is transformed into oxygen by plants; energy (in the form of heat), which creates a thriving environment for micro- and macro-organisms; and plant nutrients, which are eaten by those micro- and macro-organisms. This further breaks down the matter and leaves excess nutrients in the soil, which are then absorbed by plants.

Composting is the decomposition process that most gardeners are familiar with. In composting, natural fertilizer is created by carefully monitoring the decomposition of organic household waste, which can include leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, and even paper. By continually adding new organic waste and aerating the compost, the natural decomposition process is able to thrive. Good compost is great for gardens and house plants and can even help break down harmful chemicals in the soil. The Natural Resources Defense Council has great tips for starting and maintaining a household compost. Even if you live in an apartment, composting can be an easy and environmentally-friendly habit.

So, what about the T-shirt with the hole in it? It’s 100 percent cotton, and cotton is a plant and was once living, so can you compost it? Technically, yes; realistically, no. Items that you want in your compost decompose in about a month; that T-shirt will take six months.

How the Rest Rots

Our lettuce will rot fairly quickly, but that plastic-covered milk carton that’s in the same bag, it’ll take about five years to fully decompose; while the trash bag it was all stuffed into will take at least 500 years, most estimates say more. While the excessively long-term decomposition of plastic, extruded polystyrene foam, and synthetic fabrics is daunting in itself, landfills present another issue.

In the Bowels of a Landfill

According to the National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA), landfills aren’t designed to foster healthy breakdown of trash, they are designed to simply store it. Considering Americans dump about 370 thousand pounds of waste into landfills each day, we’re looking at a lot of trash in storage—which becomes a big problem as it starts to decompose.

A large part of the natural decomposition process is oxygen (why gardeners and composters aerate). Landfills are tightly packed mounds of waste sitting on top if a lining of clay and thick plastic, and covered with another layer of clay and thick plastic. This creates a definite dearth of oxygen, making the bacteria created during decomposition release an excess of methane gas. Methane is extremely flammable, dangerous to store, and a strong greenhouse gas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 15.4 percent of these emissions in 2015.” Not only is that a lot of methane coming from landfills, but “ethane is 28 to 36 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere…” Landfills, and the methane they produce, are quickly and efficiently thickening the Earth’s blanket.

Keeping Waste Out of Landfills

While we can’t change the waste of the past, we can change the waste of the future. Doing all you can to reduce your waste, reuse what you can, and recycle everything that you don’t reuse is a huge step. Already, Americans are recycling and composting around 35 percent of their waste, a large increase from the less-than-10-percent figure for 1985. Sadly, there’s a long way to go, as the majority of what goes into a landfill could also have been recycled, reused, composted, or donated.

The Blue Bin, the Brown Bin, and the Yellow Bin

So, recycle everything! Put your glass and plastic in your curb-side blue bin, start a brown bin for your compost, bring your unwanted clothing and textiles to your closest yellow Planet Aid bin, and help bring down the continual methane emissions from your local landfill. For more information on what you can recycle, check out our blogs on the “Big Blue Bin” and “Household Items You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle.”

Visit our Spring page for tips and tricks on spring cleaning, recycling, gardening, and more!

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Why does rotting food smell bad?

When food goes bad and starts to become pungent, it is most often due to the growth of spoilage microbes such as bacteria, yeasts and mold. Odors can come from two sources: chemicals that are released from the food as the microbes decompose it, or chemicals produced directly by the microbes themselves.

Spoilage odors come in many flavors, depending on the type of spoilage microbe and the food being spoiled. Pseudomonas fragi, a bacterium that can commonly spoil dairy products, has an almost pleasant strawberry odor. Some yeasts produce sulfur compounds that resemble human flatulence. As molds decompose foods, they give off musty, earthy aromas similar to an old basement.

Why do these microbes go to all the trouble to produce such a frightening bouquet of rotten odors? In some cases, microbial odors are probably just byproducts of other essential processes that the microbes need to engage in for survival. In other cases, those rotten smells could be byproducts of microbial warfare. Aromatic compounds related to food spoilage have been shown to play important roles in the interactions between microbial species.

Some scientists have suggested—although it’s quite difficult to prove—that microbes have evolved to produce these odors as a way to compete with humans and other large animals. By making food unappealing to us, the microbes are stealing our resources for their own survival.

While we tend to think of rotting food as a bad thing, humans have figured out how to intentionally rot foods to give them unique flavors. In fermented foods, desirable microbes are encouraged to grow on raw materials like cabbage, milk or meat to create products such as sauerkraut, cheese or salami. Some of these fermentation microbes—which we study in my lab—are quite similar to or even the same as microbes that can cause spoilage.

It’s extremely important to note that the smell test is not a sure bet when evaluating whether food is safe to eat. Many of the microbes that can cause food-borne illness do not produce detectable odors when they grow in food. Just because a suspicious food item doesn’t smell bad doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption. When in doubt, throw it out.

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Extend the life of your fruits and vegetables by learning how to select and store your produce.

Don’t let your produce spoil your health or your budget. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. They are living, breathing organisms that will go to waste if not used in time, and their nutritional value diminishes as they begin to spoil.

Understanding how produce spoils, what to look for and what you can do to slow down the spoilage process pays dividends for your body and your wallet.


Most fruits and vegetables go bad because of damage caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and mold, enzymatic processes or bruising.

Microorganisms speed produce deterioration through structural decay. Microorganisms such as bacteria and molds release their own enzymes as they grow, speeding up the spoiling process.

Enzymes, which occur naturally in live fruits and vegetables, are part of the natural aging process. Enzymatic browning leads to discoloration and later, spoilage. Bruising physically alters the exterior of your fruits and vegetables, which trigger enzymatic reactions.


How you store your fruits and vegetables has a significant impact on their lifespan. Cold temperatures are best for slowing down respiration — but do not store produce inside airtight containers, because the total lack of respiration will speed decay. Exceptions are onions, garlic and potatoes, which are best stored outside of your refrigerator in a cool, dry and dark space.

Fruits emit ethylene gas, which speeds ripening, and some vegetables are more sensitive than others. Incompatible combinations include apples and apricots stored with spinach, lettuce or other leafy greens.

The Effects of Refrigeration on Fruit

Margaret Barth, author of “Microbiological Spoilage of Fruits and Vegetables,” estimates that of all the product that is grown in the United States, 20% will be lost to spoilage. One of the chief means of reducing this spoilage is refrigeration. Some fruit benefits from refrigeration. Some, however, is spoiled if you put it in the refrigerator too soon.


Some fruits ripen after they are picked. Strawberries, cherries and grapes ripen on the plant. Once you pick them, they may get softer due to the natural deterioration of plant matter, but they will never get any sweeter. Once picked, these fruits are as ripe as they will ever get. Fruits that don’t ripen after picking should be refrigerated immediately. Other fruits that fall into this category are apples, blueberries, raspberries, tangerines, oranges, limes and blackberries.

Ripening after Picking

Other fruits continue to ripen after picking. If the fruit is left on the plant long enough, the plant will send the signal. But the signal can also be triggered by a wound to the plant. The wound made when the fruit is cut from the plant can actually trigger ripening. These kinds of fruits–avocados, bananas, mangoes, pears, plums and tomatoes–will stop ripening if you put them in the refrigerator. For best quality, ripen them at room temperature in a brown paper bag. When the fruit is fully ripe, you can store it in the refrigerator to stop it from over-ripening or spoiling.

Refrigeration and Spoilage

All fruit can spoil. Ripe fruit spoils more quickly than unripe fruit. One of the reasons fruit spoils is bacteria, mold and fungus. If you have ever forgotten about a peach only to find it covered in blue or green mold, you are familiar with this kind of spoilage. Refrigeration slows the growth of these microbes. In doing so it buys you a little bit of time between the time your fruit is fully ripe and the time it starts to deteriorate.

Cut Fruit

Fresh cut fruit always requires refrigeration. Whether the fruit was cut before you bought it or whether you cut it up, that fruit needs to be refrigerated. Soft fruits that have been cut up, fruits like mangoes or melons, typically have a shelf life of two days or less even if they are refrigerated. Fruits containing more acid or harder fruits have a slightly longer shelf life. Anytime you cut open a fruit, you accelerate the ripening process and expose that fruit to bacteria, mold and fungus. For both food safety reasons and food quality reasons, keep cut fruit in the refrigerator.

Ethylene: The Ripening Hormone

Ethylene is a small hydrocarbon gas. It is naturally occurring, but it can also occur as a result of combustion and other processes. You can’t see or smell it. Some fruit will produce ethylene as ripening begins. Mangoes, apples and pears are examples of fruit that produce ethylene with ripening. Ethylene is responsible for the changes in texture, softening, color, and other processes involved in ripening. Fruits such as cherries and blueberries do not produce much ethylene and it doesn’t influence their ripening.

Ethylene is thought of as the aging hormone in plants. In addition to causing fruit to ripen, it can cause plants to die. It can be produced when plants are injured, either mechanically or by disease.


This Simple Trick Keeps Berries Fresh for Longer

Some berry good advice

Fresh berries have two major enemies: mold and moisture. Here’s how to fight them off in two easy steps so you can enjoy your berries longer with far less wastage. Money saved!

Image zoom Photo by Vanessa Greaves

Why Fresh Berries Go Bad

Everyone says you shouldn’t wash berries until just before you eat them because moisture shortens their shelf life. But the truth is, berries carry mold spores that cause them to go bad very quickly. And that mold can spread through a whole basket of berries in a flash. Good news: You can easily kill off mold and bacteria with a quick vinegar and water bath, then dry off the berries before they go in the fridge. Here’s how to do it.

What to Know Before You Start

  • This method works best for firm berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
  • Fragile raspberries should get the classic “rinse right before eating” treatment with just plain water.
  • The vinegar bath won’t “cure” very moldy berries; it’s best to pick those out and discard them right away.
  • Berries that are super-ripe to begin with should be eaten within a couple of days.

Step 1. Vinegar Bath to Kill Mold

Discarding any berries that show even a bit of mold. Combine 3 cups cold water and 1 cup white vinegar in a large bowl or salad spinner.

Image zoom Preparing a water and vinegar bath for fresh berries.

Immerse berries and swish around for about a minute.

Image zoom

Drain berries, then rinse with clean, cold water until any trace of vinegar aroma or taste is gone.

Image zoom

Spread out rinsed berries on clean cloth or paper towels, and pat and roll lightly with towels to dry them well.

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Step 2. How to Store Berries

If your berries came in a ventilated plastic clamshell-type package, wash it with soap and hot water, rinse and dry, then line it with a dry paper towel. Put the clean, dry berries back in the clamshell and store them in the fridge. Make sure to leave ventilation holes in the top uncovered so air can circulate in the package. Otherwise, store the berries in a clean container lined with paper towels, with the lid ajar so condensation can evaporate. Change the paper towels if they get damp over time.

Image zoom

When I was researching this kitchen tip, I read where people were worried about the berries tasting like vinegar after their bath. I can tell you from experience that they don’t. I used plain white vinegar and didn’t let the berries sit in the bath for more than a couple of minutes. It didn’t take much rinsing before I couldn’t smell even a hint of vinegar, and I never tasted any.

Speaking of Berries…

• Try these easy blueberry desserts, and find out why you should eat even more blueberries.
• You’ll love these beautiful cakes made with fresh strawberries, or try these deceptively easy strawberry desserts.
• Take your pick of our top-rated berry recipes.

All photos by Vanessa Greaves

Strawberries are a delicious fruit, one of the first berries to enjoy in the spring. But if they aren’t stored properly, they can mold. Here’s how to keep strawberries from molding, with 3 of the best ways to store strawberries. Depending on how long you need them to last.

While you could just leave the strawberries in the container from the store, it’s not the best method for extending their shelf life.

If they don’t end up molding from moisture. They could get dried out and whither up.

Which doesn’t make for a very appetizing strawberry to bite into. But by following a few quick steps you can extend the life of your fresh strawberries in the refrigerator.

A Few Questions About How to Store Fresh Picked Strawberries

How Long Do Strawberries Last? This all depends on when they were picked and the variety of the strawberries. Some softer berries only last a day or two. But other firmer strawberries like the ones you purchase at the store can last longer.

If the berries look fresh and shiny, they are more than likely fresher. If they look dull and a little withered, they will probably be older. Be sure to inspect your berries closely before you purchase them.

How long do Strawberries last after picking? Fresh strawberries 3 to 7 days in most cases.

How Long do Strawberries Last at Room Temperature? Strawberries will continue to decay if stored at room temperature. They will only keep a couple of days. So it’s best to place them in the refrigerator after purchasing to help them last longer.

Should Strawberries be refrigerated? Yes, you should refrigerate your strawberries once you bring them home from the store. It will help keep them fresh longer, prevent decay and slow down molding.

How long will strawberries last in the fridge? Most strawberries will last 3 to 7 days stored in the refrigerator. But you can extend their life expectancy in your fridge a little longer by following the tips below.

What the best way to keep strawberries fresh longer? I’ve found with a little prep you can help keep your berries fresh and flavorful a little longer after harvest. They are quick and easy steps to take that can really extend the strawberries life.

Follow one of the 3 ways below depending on how long you need to store your strawberries. And how much time you have to prep them too.

How to Keep Strawberries from Molding

To find the best way to store your fresh strawberries you need to decide how long you need them to last and how much time you have to prepare them.

If you and your family will eat the berries in three to seven days, follow the steps for how to store fresh strawberries in the fridge below.

If you need your strawberries to last a week. Follow the second tutorial below. And if you need them to last up to two weeks follow the last tutorial.

Taking the time to prepare the berries can make all the difference in how long of a shelf life they will have.

The 3 Best Way to Store Fresh Strawberries

Now let’s get started with the basic items you’ll need for storing fresh picked strawberries the longest.

Items Needed for these 3 Storage Ideas for Fresh Strawberries

The items below are the basic items needed to use for all three methods. You may only need a few of the items depending on which method you choose. But I’ve put them together here with links to the items if you want to purchase them.

Just so you know, some links below are my referral links. Which means when you purchase through the links I can make a little money at no extra cost to you. Thanks! See my disclosure policy for more information.

Plastic or Glass Storage Containers with Lids
Paper Towels
Large Bowl to Soak Berries
Bonus Storage Idea, Glass Jars with Tight-Fitting Lids

Want to see all 3 fresh strawberry storage methods and the bonus method in one video? Watch the video below it will take you through all the steps in each method.

Looking to see one method only? Here’s the time stamps for each section so you can watch only what you need or want to watch.

First Method, 3-7 days storage start at 0:44
Second Method, 7-10 days storage start at 1:45
Third Method, Up to 2 weeks storage start at 3:09
Bonus Lazy Method, Up to 10 days storage start at 5:36

Videos not your thing? Keep reading for the written version of each…

How to Store Fresh Strawberries in the Fridge

The first way is for when you’ll be consuming your strawberries in less than a week. No need to do a lot of prep for this method. Just be sure to gobble up your berries before a week has passed.

A few things to do and not to do…

Don’t wash your strawberries. It’s best to keep the moisture down and let them be.

Be careful when you handle the strawberries. Use a light touch as to not bruise the strawberries.

Sort the strawberries before putting them in the refrigerator, removing any moldy or bruised berries.

Place your strawberries in an airtight container. Place a paper towel in the bottom of your store container and place the strawberries in a single layer.

Make sure none of the berries are squashed when you place the lid on. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to consume your strawberries, remove from the container, remove the stem and wash.

If you need your strawberries to last a bit longer, use the next method.

How to Store Strawberries for a Week…

After bring strawberries home from the store you’ll want to prepare them for the refrigerator.

Inspect the Berries

Inspect the strawberries for any mold or bad spots. If a strawberry has mold on it take it out and set it aside.

If you are wondering if it’s safe to eat strawberries with mold? It’s not recommended to eat strawberries with mold on them because they are soft fruit and the mold can penetrate them. But the rest of the berries in the container should be good. Just inspect them well.

If the strawberry is just bruised but not moldy don’t add it to the container for storage. It could mold more easily and make other strawberries go bad. Instead, cut off the bruised area and eat those right away.

Remove the Stems

After inspecting the berries and sorting them. You’ll want to remove the stem from the strawberry. You can do this with a knife or with a strawberry huller.

Store in a Lined Container

Once the berries stem end has been removed place them in a container lined with a paper towel. Place the stem removed side down. And cover with a lid.

Don’t wash them first, just place them into the container in a single layer.

If more than one layer is needed place a paper towel between each layer.

When you are ready to consume them, wash them and then eat.

Storing them this way will keep them fresh for about a week. Need to store them longer use the next method to extend their storage to two weeks.

How to Clean and Store Fresh Strawberries

If you want to keep your strawberries longer than a week in the refrigerator, you’ll want to prepare them to remove mold spores and keep them fresh longer. Following the steps below to clean and store the strawberries first. Which can help you store fresh strawberries for up to two weeks.

How to Store Strawberries for Two Weeks…

Sort the Strawberries

Go through the strawberries carefully and remove any berries that are moldy or bruised. Throw away the moldy berries and consume the bruised berries. If you store bruised berries, it could shorten the storage life of all the berries.

Don’t Remove Stems, Use a Soak Instead

Instead of removing the stems we will soak the berries in a vinegar wash. This wash will help to remove any mold spores and help keep the berries fresh longer. Don’t worry your berries won’t taste like vinegar.

Make a mixture of 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of water. Place it into a large bowl and add the strawberries. Let the berries sit in the vinegar bath for about 3-5 minutes. Then drain.

Rinse the Strawberries

Once the strawberries are done soaking give them a good rinse under cold running water. To remove any debris that is left on them. It’s best to use a colander for this step.

I often put the berries inside of my colander, then place the colander inside of a bigger bowl to soak.

When the soaking time is up, you can pick up the colander and then rinse the berries. It makes for less handling of the strawberries and less chance of bruising them too.

Let Dry Fully

Lay your strawberries out on a paper towel or draining rack. I use my dehydrator trays for this it works great. But if you don’t have one lay them in a single layer on a paper towels and let them fully dry.

Place in a Lined Container

Once dry place your berries in a container lined with paper towels. It’s best to place them in a single layer. But if you need to have over one layer, add a paper towel between each layer.

This keeps the moisture down and there is less chance of spoilage.

Place the lid on the container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Check the Strawberries Often

Be sure to check your strawberries while they are being stored. If you see one berry going bad, be sure to remove it quickly so the other won’t go bad too.

One Easy Bonus Strawberry Storage Tip…

Don’t have to to fuss with the strawberries. This tip may work well for you. I’ve had it work well but I know not everyone will have glass jars to store their strawberries in.

That’s why it’s a bonus tip but for those who have a glass jar with lids this method works great for those days when you are feeling lazy about preparing the strawberries to store.

How to Keep Strawberries Longer, the Lazy Version

Take your strawberries, sort them but don’t wash them or take the stems off. Just place them into a glass jar and then place a tight-fitting lid on it. Place in the refrigerator.

Remove the berries and wash when ready to eat.

This method works beautifully to store strawberries for about a week.

Why don’t I include it above and it’s only a bonus storage tip?

Because you need to have a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Most people have plastic containers to store their produce in. So it’s more convenient to use one of the methods above.

But if you have canning jars with lids or empty pickle jars with lids, this method is super easy to use. But if you don’t have those items on hand use one of the other methods above.

That’s how to keep strawberries from molding. Pick the method you want to use depending on how much time you have to prepare your berries and how long you need to keep them.

If you need to keep your strawberries longer, you can always freeze them for later use or dehydrate them for longer storage.

What to Make With Fresh Strawberries…

Mini Strawberry Pies
How to Make Strawberry Jam
Strawberry Mint Popsicles

Sharing is caring!

I bought pints of various berries, divided each batch into two samples, and heated one by immersing and swishing its plastic basket in a pot of hot water. I emptied the heated sample onto towels to cool down and dry. Then I repacked it, and encouraged both baskets to spoil by wrapping them airtight and letting them sweat on the kitchen counter. After 24 hours I counted the moldy berries in each basket.

The strawberries fared best when I heated them at 125 degrees for 30 seconds. In two samples from different sources, this treatment gave a total of 1 moldy berry out of 30, where the untreated baskets had 14. I also treated some bruised berries, including one with a moldy tip. After 24 hours none were moldy. The tip mold not only hadn’t spread, it had disappeared.

I tried the same treatment, 125 degrees for 30 seconds, on raspberries and blackberries, and got the same good results. There were many fewer moldy berries in the heated samples.

For thicker-skinned blueberries, a Canadian study recommended a 140-degree treatment for 30 seconds. I tested it twice, with samples of around 150 berries each time. That heat took the bloom off. It melted the natural wax that gives the berries their whitish cast, and left them midnight blue. It also cut the number of moldy berries from around 20 per sample to 2.

Research has also shown that exposure to hot air slows fruit spoilage. But hot air can take several hours, and I found it harder than hot water to apply precisely in the kitchen. I did spread some raspberries out on a sheet pan lined with towels, and put them in a 150-degree non-convection oven for 20 minutes. The berry bottoms got hotter than the tops, which were cooled by evaporation. Still, only 1 out of 48 heated berries became moldy, compared with 7 out of 52 in the unheated basket.

Why is it that delicate berries can survive heat high enough to kill mold and injure fingers? Probably because they have to do so in the field. One study of tomatoes found that intense sunlight raised their interiors to 122 degrees. Such heat hurts the quality of growing fruits, but I couldn’t taste much of an effect on briefly heated ripe fruits.

So if you find yourself plagued by quickly spoiling fruits, start giving them a brief hot bath before you spread them out or chill them. Thermotherapy can be healthy for all concerned.

Food Storage – How long can you keep…


  • How long do strawberries last? The precise answer to that question depends to a large extent on storage conditions and how ripe the berries were when purchased or picked – for maximum shelf life, keep strawberries refrigerated at all times.
  • How long do strawberries last at room temperature? Strawberries should only be left out at room temperature if being consumed within one or two days, as strawberries are highly perishable and do not ripen after being picked.
  • Refrigerate strawberries in their closed plastic clamshell container (if purchased in one) or place berries loosely in a shallow container and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Discard any bruised or moldy strawberries before refrigerating.
  • To extend the shelf life of strawberries, do not wash the berries until ready to eat or use.
  • How long do strawberries last in the refrigerator? Properly stored, strawberries will usually keep for about 3 to 7 days in the fridge.
  • Can you freeze whole strawberries? Yes, to freeze: (1) Rinse berries and blot dry (2) Slice stems off at top of berry (3) Place strawberries, cut side down, on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper (4) Place uncovered cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours, until frozen (5)Transfer frozen strawberries to covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
  • How long do whole strawberries last in the freezer? Properly stored, they will maintain best quality for about 10 to 12 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only – strawberries that have been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How to tell if strawberries are bad or spoiled? Strawberries that are spoiling will typically become soft and mushy and their color will deteriorate; discard strawberries if mold appears or if the strawberries have an off smell or appearance.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please

Vinegar Bath, fresh for up to 2 weeks

One of the great things about vinegar is that it destroys harmful bacteria so bathing your strawberries in it will keep them fresh longer. And don’t worry about your berries tasting like vinegar. You’ll be washing it off. Bathing your strawberries in vinegar only takes five easy steps, and can help the berries last much longer. The good news is that this method works for any type of berry.

Step 1: Fill a measuring cup with 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 1/2 cup of water. You may need more vinegar/water depending on how many strawberries you are planning to soak.

Step 2: Place the water/vinegar solution into a bowl or glass container. Let the berries soak for about five minutes.

Step 3: Place berries in a colander and rinse with water.

Step 4: Place the strawberries on a paper towel and let them dry.

Step 5: Line the container you plan to use for storage with a paper towel and place the strawberries inside. Make sure they are all dry.

Step 6: Cover the lid and label it with the date. Your strawberries should last up to two weeks.

Cut Stems + Airtight Container, fresh for up to 1 week

Cutting the stems off a strawberry and placing them in a container is the most common way to store strawberries. For this method, you don’t need to wash the berries until you’re ready to use them. The only thing you’ll need is a paper towel and an airtight container. This method will keep your berries fresh for about a week. If you need ideas on what to do with your strawberries, check out this fruit and chocolate pairing guide.

Step 1: Cut the stems off the strawberries. For this method, you don’t need to wash them first. Step 2: Line an airtight container with a paper towel and place the strawberries inside. Make sure they’re spread out. Step 3: Cover the container and label.

Original Packaging + Countertop, fresh for 2 days

If you want to use your strawberries right away, leave them in their original packaging and place them on the countertop. Then wash them right before you plan to use them. These strawberries should stay fresh for about two days. Always make sure to remove the moldy ones to prevent the others from molding as well.

Step 1: Place your strawberries on the counter in its original packaging. They can be stored for up to two days. Make sure you wash them before you use them.

Freezing Your Strawberries

Whole Strawberries + Freezer Bag, lasts up to 2 months

So you want to freeze your strawberries for smoothies. Here’s a simple way to do that in two easy steps!

Step 1: Cut the strawberry stems. Step 2: Place the strawberries in freezer bag.

Halved Strawberries + Sugar, lasts 8-12 months

This method is perfect for strawberries that you plan to use in a dessert or for a sweet treat on their own. You can use as little or as much sugar as you want. Make sure to taste one of the strawberries before freezing so that you know it’s the right sweetness. You don’t want to end up with overly sweet strawberries that you can’t eat. Our suggestion is to mix 1/4 cup of sugar for every 10 ounces of berries.

Step 1: Gather some sugar, an airtight container and your strawberries. Step 2: Rinse your strawberries in a pot. Step 3: Cut your strawberries in half and the remove stems. Step 4: Put the strawberries back in the pot or bowl and pour your sugar in. Step 5: Gently stir the strawberries until the sugar melts. The mixture should be thick but not mushy. Step 6: Dump any excess water. Step 7: Pour the strawberries in a freezer safe container and store. Your berries should last up to 12 months.

Now that you know how to keep strawberries fresh, try making a fruity smoothie, or better yet, a strawberry tart. If you ate all the strawberries that you meant to use for a dinner party dessert, no need to worry! Send them some goodies from our enchanting autumn best sellers. We guarantee this will make them smile.

How to Keep Strawberries Fresh for As Long As Possible

There are few feelings more tragic than reaching for a handful of fresh strawberries, only to realize the berries have shriveled up and turned a deep burgundy color or, worse, gotten moldy. The bad news for those looking to keep strawberries fresh for as long as possible is that strawberries have a decidedly short shelf life. They really only last on the shelf a few days, due to “their thin skin and fragile structure,” writes Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. And that’s even with cold storage. So what is the best way to store fresh strawberries and keep strawberries from going bad?

According to the experts at the California Strawberry Commission, the best way to store fresh strawberries is in the fridge, either in the original clamshell with those holes for ventilation or in a paper towel-lined container. They also suggest that you, “Separate the berries by layering them with paper towels to maximize freshness.” You don’t want to remove the caps, or green tops, of the strawberries before storing, either; that’s because berries lose some moisture when you do that, according to the North Carolina Strawberry Association, which certainly doesn’t help them stay fresh.

And you do as with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, you only want to wash as many strawberries as you will eat or use at once. That’s because, as McGee explains, “Even rinsing in water can make delicate berries more susceptible to infection by abrading their protective epidermal layer with clinging dirt particles.”

You can also freeze your strawberries. The strawberry experts at the NCSA suggest that you wash and take the caps off strawberries, then lay them out on a wax paper-lined cookie tray. Pop that in the freezer until the fruit is firm, and then put the now-frozen strawberries in an airtight container or plastic bag. These frozen berries will be great for smoothies or jams or pastry fillings, since they’ll probably get a little mushy upon defrosting.

Really, the only foolproof way to ensure your strawberries won’t go bad before you have a chance to eat them is to devour them as soon as you get your hands on them. OK, that might be a little hyperbolic, but that is a good rule of thumb—and when it’s strawberry season, why wouldn’t you want to eat as many berries as possible?

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