Learn how to buy and store strawberries at the peak of their flavor and keep them fresh for your favorite recipes.
How to Select and Store Fresh Picked Strawberries
For many areas, strawberry season is at its peak between May and July, here in Wisconsin. But that being said, prime time is May. Which is why, if you go through the trouble of picking or buying fresh strawberries, you want them to last as long as they can.
After all, strawberries are not only beautiful to look at but offer many health benefits to eating strawberries, as well. The key to optimizing these benefits is to know the tips and tricks to buying and storing fresh picked strawberries in order to make them last longer and taste better.
But first, here are a few interesting facts about strawberries, you might or might not know:
Interesting Facts About Strawberries
- There are approximately 103 species of strawberries.
- Strawberries offer many health benefits, including being an excellent source of vitamins A and C and folic acid.
- Strawberries contain flavonoids that can help with heart disease and cancer
- Eating strawberries may lower blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar.
- Strawberries may promote healthy eyesight, as well as help with symptoms of arthritis.
- Strawberries are also helpful for avoiding constipation.
- They are diet-friendly, as a handful of strawberries has only 45 calories and 7 grams of sugar.
- Frozen strawberries can last up to 12 months in your freezer or 14 days in your refrigerator, if packaged correctly.
- Strawberry season lasts approximately May to July in Wisconsin.
How to Grow and Harvest Strawberry Plants – B&Q (Video)
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Best Places to Buy Strawberries
Buy local is probably my first choice and recommendation. But that being said, not everyone can experience the joy of picking or growing strawberries. So you may have to opt for the nearest grocery store or local farmer’s market.
Here in Southeast Wisconsin, we are lucky enough to have pick-your-own strawberry farms. Unfortunately, strawberry season is short-lived, but if you pick and store them in the freezer, you’ll have strawberries in the weeks and months to come.
Here are a handful of farms that offer pick-your-own:
- Apple Barn Orchard and Winery– Elkhart
- Barthel Fruit Farm – Mequon
- Basse’s Taste of Country Farm Market– Colgate
- Berryville Farm – Racine
- Bremers Strawberries – Hartford
- Kirschbaum’s Strawberry Acres – Beaver Dam
- Polzin Farms – Grafton
- Thompson Strawberry Farm – Bristol
- Mayberry Farms – Mayville
Remember to call ahead if you want to take your family strawberry picking to make sure that there’s still fruit aplenty to pick.
Also, I like recommend folks to bring a cooler with a layer of ice to keep the strawberries fresh, especially if you plan on driving a distance to pick your own.
How to Buy Strawberries
Regardless of where you buy your strawberries, here are some tips for choosing the best ones:
Red Berries. The freshest strawberries, whether you pick them or buy them fresh picked is to choose red, plump berries. If your berries have any green on them, remember that strawberries do not ripen beyond their picking, so choose well.
Green Stems. Strawberries that have vibrant, dark green stems are the fruit of choice. Those that are shriveled or dried, mean that the fruit is past it’s prime.
No Mold. This is usually for those fruit purchased already picked. No mold. If you find any fruit with mold on it, toss it.
No Bruising. Bruising on the other hand, can be cut away and the rest of the fruit used. That being said, any fruit with bruising on it should be consumed within a day or so or frozen immediately with other cut strawberries.
How to Store Fresh Strawberries
One of the most important rules for strawberry buying and storing tips is not to rinse them until you are ready to eat them. The only exception is if you choose to use a vinegar wash (see below).
Sure you can and should remove any dirt off the fruit before storing them. You can do this easily with a fine pastry brush. But otherwise it’s sans water.
The reason why you don’t want to wash them is because it will speed up rotting and you certainly don’t want that to happen. This video shows why:
So, if you are going to use the strawberries within a day or so, you can leave them out on the counter. Do this only if your home is cool and not sweltering hot, otherwise you will have squishy strawberries—trust me.
You can argue that grocery stores place their strawberries out without refrigeration, and while this is great for folks to access them without any muss or fuss, the truth is the clock is ticking on the shelf life of your strawberries.
That’s why it’s advisable to refrigerate them if you aren’t going to consume them within a day.
If you’ve wondered how do you make strawberries last longer in the refrigerator, then you’ve come to the right place.
This is my preferred method, as it keeps them fresher longer. But that being said, it’s important where and how you store them in the fridge that makes all the difference.
Store in Original Container
If the container you brought your strawberries home has a food grade liner on the base, then flip the strawberry container over and store them on the furthest side of the refrigerator way from your ice maker (if you have one). Placing it too close to the ice maker has a tendency to freeze or over cool the berries.
If the strawberry container doesn’t have a liner, then you can store the strawberries right side up, again away from the coldest part of your refrigerator.
These will stay fresh for approximately three to five days.
Store in Sealed Container
If you want, you can store your strawberries in another container. This will give you a couple of more days in with which to use your fruit.
For this method, remove the green stems and place them in a sealed BPA-free container lined with paper toweling. Again, place them furthest from the freezer or ice maker. They should be fresh for approximately five to seven days.
One of the alternative ways to store fresh strawberries in the refrigerator is to use a vinegar wash prior to storing.
You might not know this but vinegar can help preserve your strawberries by slowing down molding and stretching their freshness.
Here’s how: When you bring your strawberries home, place them in a 1:3 ratio (vinegar to cool water) bath and let them soak no more than five minutes.
Afterwards, air dry the strawberries for about 30 minutes, then place them in a closed container that has been lined with paper toweling. Using this method to keep strawberries fresh with vinegar will usually keep them fresh for up to two weeks.
Keep in mind that once you cut your strawberries, you will need to refrigerate them and you’ll only have about a day or so to consume them. It is not advisable to leave any processed fruit on the counter as they will turn mushy and mold, and could harbor bacteria.
The best way to store your strawberries long term is to freeze them. This you can do with whole berries or cut berries.
Whole strawberries are great for pies and tarts. So when you freeze them, they’ll come out a bit soft but still very useful for many cooking recipes.
To prepare them for freezing, remove the green stems, rinse them with cool water, then place them first on a sided baking sheet lined with parchment or paper toweling in a single layer and place in the freezer to flash freeze them.
This process takes approximately an hour or so and then all you have to do is pack the frozen strawberries in a sealed quart or gallon bag.
They can be used up to 12 months from date of purchase.
This methods is best if you plan on using your berries for smoothies or compote, as once they are thawed they will be soft and mushy.
First remove the green stems, rinse, cut and in a bowl toss with sugar. The ratio is usually 1/2 cup of sugar to one pound of berries.
Favorite Recipes with Strawberries
There are a plethora of ways to make and bake strawberry desserts, snacks, drinks and more.
Here are eight of my favorite recipes for using this very tasty berry: