Strawberries are so delectable that it is easy to get carried away and purchase the biggest basket in the store. But they are also expensive, so when you stock up, you want to be sure they are keeping fresh for as long as possible. Read on to learn more about the lifespan of strawberries and how to properly store yours so you can enjoy their alluring sweetness longer.
Do Strawberries Go Bad?
Yes. Like all fresh fruits, strawberries do go bad. In fact, strawberries have a very short shelf life; if not stored properly, they can spoil in less than a day. Their lifespan is also determined by their form. Whole berries will tend to last a little bit longer than sliced berries.
It is important to note that strawberries, like most other fresh fruits, usually don’t come with a best-by or use-by date, so basically, you will have to estimate the lifespan based on the date purchased. Sometimes the berries will have the date they were packed printed on the package. You can use this date to calculate how long the fruit will stay good for.
According to this article from the University of California, always buy strawberries that appear bright and glossy; they’ll have a longer shelf life than those with a dull or mushy appearance.
How Long Do Strawberries Last?
Strawberries will last between one and two days on the counter and about five to seven days in the refrigerator.
Make sure to inspect the pack for any spoiled ones and discard those before putting the berries away. If you keep good berries with ones with gray mold, for instance, the pack will deteriorate much quicker, and it doesn’t matter whether you refrigerate it or not. Also, make sure the container is not crowded, as the more fruit there is in the pack, the higher the chances of spoilage.
To further prolong the shelf life of your strawberries, place them in the freezer. Here, they can stay good for about seven to eight months. Sliced berries will keep anywhere between two to three days in the refrigerator and about three to four months in the freezer.
If you plan on eating your strawberries on the day you purchase them, you can just leave them on the kitchen counter.
Here is a summary of the lifespan of strawberries in different forms and storage conditions.
|Whole strawberries||1 to 2 days||5 to 7 days||7 to 8 months|
|Sliced strawberries||1 day||2 to 3 days||2 to 4 months|
5 Tips to Tell if Strawberries Have Gone Bad
As with all fresh fruits, when strawberries are not safe to eat, they will start to show some signs. Here is how to know your strawberries need to be thrown away:
Fresh strawberries will have a bright red color and with little to no flaws. If you notice strange dark spots or other blemishes on your strawberries, it is a sign that the berries have started to age. Depending on how soon you spot these, you may still be able to eat the fruit.
2. Sour Smell or Taste
It is easy to tell if your strawberries are safe for consumption from the way they smell or taste. Good strawberries will have a sweet and fruity aroma and taste. If the fruit gives off a strong sour odor or tastes tart or bitter, chances are it has gone rancid and is not safe to eat. Discard it right away.
Mold can grow very quickly on strawberries especially those kept at room temperature. There are mold spores in the atmosphere all the time and as soon as they locate a warm and moist environment, they settle on it and multiply rapidly.
Also, strawberries are notorious for absorbing moisture easily, which makes them the perfect breeding ground for mold. Berries with mold are not safe to ingest. If you see white spots or grayish, furry growth on the outside of the fruit, it is best to discard it.
4. Soft Texture
Strawberries that haven’t gone bad will be firm to touch. As the fruit ripens, it starts to get softer. A semi-firm strawberry should still be good to eat. If the fruit feels soggy and mushy, that’s a sign that it has gone bad and should be tossed out.
Strawberries that are past their prime may attract bugs. If you see worms, a swarm of fruit flies, or any other suspicious insect activity, there is a chance your berries are rotting and should not be consumed.
For more insights on how to find out if your strawberries are fresh and safe to eat, watch this video:
5 Tips to Store Strawberries
While strawberries have a relatively short lifespan, practicing proper storage and food handling techniques can help your fruit live a little longer. Use the following tricks to handle your strawberries and store them properly.
1. Avoid Storing Strawberries on the Counter
Unless you plan to eat all your strawberries in one day, avoid leaving them out. The fruit, being highly perishable, starts to degrade in quality as soon as it is harvested. Leaving it at room temperature only accelerates the spoilage process because disease-causing bacteria multiply quickly in that environment.
If you absolutely have to leave your strawberries out, make sure to store them away from heat sources or direct sunlight, as these could make them soggy and watery.
2. Refrigerate or Freeze Your Strawberries
The best place to store strawberries is in the refrigerator, as they can remain fresh and succulent for up to a week. However, where you place them matters a lot, as different parts of the fridge may have different cooling and humidity settings.
For best results, put your berries in the crisper drawer where you store your veggies. This section has high humidity levels, which will help keep the fruit fresh and juicy, adding an extra day or two of shelf life. To further extend the lifespan of your berries, place them in the freezer in an airtight container or Ziplock bag.
3. Wait to Wash Your Strawberries
While it is a good idea to wash fruits, experts recommend waiting to wash your strawberries until just before you are ready to eat them. Why? Because strawberries soak up water quickly and as soon as they are saturated, they will quickly start to get moldy or soggy.
4. Don’t Get Rid of the Stem and Leaves
Removing the stems and leaves of your strawberries exposes their flesh to moisture, air, and microbes, which speeds up the rotting process. If you wish to enjoy your fruit for a longer time, leave the stems and leaves on until you are ready to use it.
5. Sort Your Strawberries
One moldy or rotten strawberry can ruin the whole pack. Inspect all your berries before storing them and get rid of those that are bruised, look mushy or moldy, or display any other signs of spoilage.
Here are more tips to help you properly store strawberries and keep them fresh longer:
The Risk of Consuming Bad Strawberries
Many people will not intentionally eat moldy or rotten fruit, but there are times when it can happen without one realizing it.
If you accidentally ingest a strawberry with mold or rot, chances are you will not experience any negative effects. Of course, some people will be more sensitive than others and may develop symptoms or get sick.
However, for most people, any illness would likely not last long. But if you have nausea, diarrhea, or any other gastrointestinal distress that lasts for more than two days, seek medical assistance right away. Also, avoid strawberries that are moldy, damaged, mushy, shriveled, or leaking juice.
Can You Freeze Strawberries?
Yes, storing strawberries in the freezer is the most effective way to keep your fruit fresh and juicy long-term. It’s a pretty straightforward process. You will want, however, to decide whether you want to keep the berries whole or sliced.
Start by prepping the fruits. If you will be halving them, make sure to wash them first but do so gently to avoid bruising their flesh. Next, lay the berries on a baking sheet making sure they aren’t touching each other.
Then, place them in the freezer and leave there for a few hours or until they have frozen nicely. After this, transfer the frozen fruit into an airtight container or Ziplock bag, then put it back into the freezer for storage.
Do not store the berries near strong-scented foods, as they can pick the foods’ flavors, which can alter their original scent and taste.
This video shares more pointers on how to freeze strawberries. Check it out!
Strawberries are highly perishable. But if refrigerated or frozen, you can slow down the spoilage process, enabling the fruit to live a little longer. Check the fruit for signs of spoilage before consumption. If you see mold or notice a change in texture, that berry is not safe to eat. Get rid of it.