A Guide To Ripening And Storing Strawberries

Let’s examine the ripening and storing of strawberries and answer, will strawberries ripen on the counter?

Strawberries will not ripen on the counter. Once a strawberry is harvested, it will not continue ripening. Some fruits, like strawberries, can only ripen while still attached to the plant. After a strawberry is picked, it will remain at that ripeness. 

As a Certified Health Coach many people ask me about strawberries. Also, I purchase, consume and store them all the time. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present.

We’ll dig into not only the ripening of strawberries1 but also strawberry storage best practices.

Will Strawberries Ripen on the Counter?

strawberries on the counter.
Storing strawberries on the counter

Strawberries are one of those fruits that do not ripen after harvest. You should look for ones that have nice red color when purchasing strawberries. Do not pick any of the typical green or white colors of the unripened fruit.

Leaving strawberries out at room temperature will do one thing for them. It will increase their sugar content. What this does, in essence, allows a bitter unripened fruit to be sweeter.

Although it is not genuinely ripening the fruit, this process can mimic the ripening effect to some degree.

When leaving strawberries out at room temperature to maximize sweetness, two things are the enemy of the strawberry.

  1. Humidity and moisture. One should control the humidity and moisture required for mold and fungus growth.
  2. Stagnant air which causes mold growth nine times out of ten.

Once strawberries harvesting occurs, they do not ripen further. Strawberries may get slightly sweeter over time if kept at room temperature. However, one will find strawberries picked in the green or white color do not typically ripen after being picked2.

Some people on forums and also YouTube claim that leaving out green strawberries in a bowl covered for a day or two will allow the strawberries to ripen. This method seems to contradict science, which states that the fruit will not ripen after its harvesting.

In my experience, strawberries will may sweeten slightly after being picked but don’t tend to turn red and ripen if they are entirely green.

How To “Ripen” Picked Strawberries 

So you’ve got some strawberries that are a little green or white, and you’d like ripening them. Well, science says that these fruits don’t ripen after harvesting. However, their taste can be changed after they’ve been picked, just not as much as other fruits do.

So how do you “ripen” strawberries anyway?

The trick to remember is to keep them in a cooler, dry room. Strawberries should be in a container similar to a bowl with a plate on top. In addition, check them daily to allow for minimal air exchange.

The amount of air that the strawberries get will be a deciding factor in whether you produce a slightly sweeter fruit or a moldy fruit. It’s important to make sure they get a little bit of air instead of being in a sealed container.

Should Strawberries Be Refrigerated?

There’s nothing worse than wanting to enjoy a delicious strawberry to find they have turned on you. The question as to whether strawberries should be refrigerated or not, is an excellent one.

If you’re going to eat them soon, leave them out for up to a few hours3. If you’re not going to eat them soon, then refrigerate them.

One of worst things, as mentioned for strawberries, is moisture. Moisture increases the chances mold will grow on your strawberries.

Many different methods have been tested for storing strawberries. How should strawberries be refrigerated?

  • Do not wash them prior to storing in the fridge.
  • Keep the stems attached.
  • Remove and discard any strawberries that appears to be turning.
  • Arrange them in a single layer on a paper lined plate or tray.
  • Cover them loosely.
  • Refrigerate them and before eating, wash them in cool water and remove the stems.

Have you ever stored strawberries and grapes together, or may be thinking about it? You may be surprised at the answer which you can find out right now in my blog post, Can You Store Strawberries And Grapes Together?

How Do You Make Strawberries Last Longer In The Refrigerator?

Strawberries will slowly soften, and then mold will form as the strawberry decays. If you’ve tried the above procedure for refrigerating your strawberries and you’d like them to last longer, there’s another method you can try. It’s a little more involved but you may find greater success with it.

So how do you make strawberries last longer in the refrigerator?

  • Give the strawberries a short bath in a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water. 
  • Drain the strawberries and dry them immediately in a salad spinner lined with paper towels.
  • Once they are completely dry, place the strawberries into a paper towel lined container and cover them with a loose lid.
  • Check the strawberries every day and discard any which may have turned bad. This will help preserve the remaining ones.

Strawberries stored with this particular method may last upwards of ten days in the refrigerator when ripe before they begin rotting. If you don’t have a salad spinner and purchase one, you’re going to wonder how you did without one.

Can You Store Strawberries In An Airtight Container?

Storing your strawberries properly is something everyone needs to learn. One of the storage questions that pop up is, can you store strawberries in an airtight container?

You should not store strawberries in an airtight container. Strawberries should be packaged in a closed plastic clamshell container with air vents. In addition, they can be stored in a partially opened plastic bag or container to maintain high humidity. Strawberries can be placed on a plate or tray and covered loosely.

Therefore, the best method for storing strawberries is not to use an airtight container. A container with a lid that allows for airflow like the ones they come in are ideal4.

strawberries in a container
Strawberries in a container

How Do You Keep Strawberries From Getting Moldy?

Any serious gardener will tell you that two things cause mold: moisture and stagnant air. Whether you’re trying to grow wheatgrass, zucchinis or store your strawberries,  stagnant air and moisture is almost always the cause of mold growth. So how do you keep strawberries from getting moldy?

To keep strawberries from getting moldy, they must be kept dry, have airflow and refrigerated. Stagnant air and moist conditions cause mold growth. Place dry strawberries in a ventilated container and refrigerate at 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can You Store Strawberries In A Ziploc Bag?

Ziploc bags are one of the most common food storage bags on the market in North America. The brand has done so well; many people now use the brand name as the name for the food storage bags.

As we’ve already discussed, storing strawberries in a sealed and airtight container is not a good idea if short-term storage is the goal. However, for long-term storage, can you store strawberries in a ziplock bag?

Strawberries can be stored in a ziplock or plastic storage bag. If storing strawberries in the refrigerator, the ziplock bag should be kept partially open to main humidity. If storing strawberries in the freezer, use a ziplock or plastic bag made for the freezer which is more durable.

Find out if strawberries or blueberries are healthier in my article, Strawberries vs Blueberries: Which is Better? A Comparison.

sealing strawberries for freezing
Sealing strawberries for freezing

Can Strawberries be Frozen?

I buy so many strawberries at one time. It’s almost impossible to eat them all before they turn bad. The only way to avoid this is buying less of them or freezing them5.

The less trips I make to the supermarket the better, so how do you freeze6 strawberries?

To freeze strawberries follow these steps:

  • Rinse the strawberries in cold water and completely dry.
  • Cut off the stems.
  • Slice, quarter or crush them depending on how you want to use them for your particular dish or smoothie.
  • Place the strawberries on a paper lined plate or tray and place them in the freezer until solid.
  • Transfer them into a freezer storage bag and place them back into the freezer.

If you’re not going to use the frozen strawberries frozen, remember they will be slightly mushy once defrosted4. Strawberries can be frozen for two months7 or sometimes three.

Find out if raspberries or strawberries are better in my article, Raspberry vs Strawberry: Which is Better? A Comparison.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Strawberry Articles

Cherries vs Strawberries – A Complete Comparison

Will Strawberries Ripen on the Counter?

5 Strawberries That Have the Best Taste

Can You Store Blueberries and Strawberries Together?

Can You Store Strawberries and Blackberries Together?

  1. SFGATE: Will Strawberries Ripen If Picked When White? []
  2. Ohio State University Extension: Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Strawberries []
  3. University of Illinois Extension: Strawberries & More []
  4. University of California: Strawberries: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy [] []
  5. USDA: United States Standards For Grades of Washed and Sorted Strawberries for Freezing []
  6. National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing Strawberries []
  7. The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Growing Strawberries []

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