When summer rolls around, we can’t wait to get our hands on a pint of juicy strawberries at the farmers market or grocery store. But sometimes, our eyes are bigger than our stomach and we find ourselves with more cartons of seasonal fruit than we can handle. (If you’ve ever seen a bright red berry grow white fuzz, you know what we’re talking about.) Good news: A crash course on how to store strawberries will solve the problem, so we can all enjoy that sweet taste from summer till fall.
Wash Berries Before Eating (but Not a Moment Sooner)
It might be tempting to rinse all your strawberries at once right in the perforated plastic packaging, but it’s a bad idea. Excess moisture is the main reason your plump berries eventually go soft and grow mold, and this is true even if you wash and dry them thoroughly. Strawberries absorb water like nobody’s business, so as soon as you have them under running water, they’re drinking it through a straw. To avoid this, be sure never to wash strawberries unless you plan to immediately pop ‘em in your mouth. (The good news is that strawberries just need a quick rinse before eating so the inconvenience is minor.)
Prep Strawberries for Storage
When it comes to storing strawberries so they stay yummy, there’s actually very little prep work involved. First and foremost, put down the knife: Those green stems should stay right where they are. The only thing you should do with your berries once they’ve left the store is to remove them from the plastic container for closer examination and relocation. Go through the strawberries one by one and discard any that are bruised or beginning to mold. (A couple of bad berries shouldn’t put you off the whole bunch, but it can cause problems if they keep commingling with healthy neighbors.) Once you have picked off the weak links, your little patch of strawberry bliss is ready for storage.
Option 1: Store Strawberries on the Counter
Strawberries will stay fresh at room temperature for about a day or two, so this method only works well if you’re in the mood for a berry binge. (Come summer, that’s not exactly a chore.) To store berries on the counter, gently pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture they might have picked up from a potentially humid plastic container. Then, transfer the strawberries to a bowl or platter and arrange them in a single layer to avoid bruising and promote air circulation.
Option 2: Store Strawberries in the Fridge
If you want to dip into your selection of delicious strawberries over the course of several days, the fridge is your best bet. The best storage container to use is one that’s airtight and provides enough space so that strawberries can chill in a single layer—shallow bowls, rimmed serving platters and small roasting pans are all good options. Once you have picked the right bed for your berries, line the container with a paper towel and spread the unwashed, stem-on strawberries out on top of it. Seal the container with an appropriate lid or a tight layer of plastic wrap before storing it in the fridge, where they will stay fresh for up to one week.