How Long Do Strawberries Last?
Strawberry season is here!
Farm stands and U-pick strawberry farms are overflowing with strawberries. Even if you don’t have a farm by you, the price of strawberries at the grocery store drops during June because they’re in season.
So it’s time to load up on strawberries while!
But those sweet and perfectly ripe strawberries get soft after a few days. Stocking when food is at is the lowest price all year is one of the best meal planning strategies to save money and time. But won’t berries go bad? And, what can you do with all of those strawberries?
In this article, you’ll learn how to store strawberries and get ideas for using them. So, go ahead and get them while they’re on sale.
What Are the Benefits of Strawberries?
Strawberries are high in fiber and an excellent source of vitamin k and vitamin C. One cup of fresh strawberries contains 3.0 g of fiber (12% of DV) and 89.3 mg of vitamin C (149% of DV)! In addition, berries are full of antioxidants that help protect your body against inflammation.
Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Don’t worry – you can and should eat strawberries if you have diabetes. Strawberries are one of the lowest sugar fruits compared to other high-sugar fruits such as watermelon, banana, or mango.
But a perfectly ripe strawberry tastes very sweet! But, unfortunately, after a few days, they start the sugar starts to break down, and they lose some of its sweetness.
Properly storing berries can keep them fresh longer. Let’s look at the best way to keep
Do Strawberries Need to Be Refrigerated?
You’ve probably seen berries at farm stands or in non-refrigerated display cases at grocery stores.
Berries can sit out at room temperature for a few hours. But, all berries need to be refrigerated when stored for more than a few hours. Berries have fragile skin and soft flesh, so they have a short shelf life.
Strawberries can be stored for about 7 days at 41℉ (5℃), the average temperature of a home refrigerator. But they lost their taste and quality after 2-3 days. They can be stored longer at cooler temperatures, between 32℉ (0℃) and 37.4℉ (3℃). Low temperature keeps them cold enough to slow down decay and prevent fungus growth but not cold enough to freeze the berries.
To keep the berries from drying out, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them uncut and unwashed. Washing the berries before storing them will speed up the decay and fungus growth.
The sugars and organic acids break down when strawberries are stored for a long time. That’s why they lose their firmness and sweetness.
How to Freeze Strawberries
Freezing foods is an economical option to store fresh foods in the off-season.
Storing fruits and vegetables in the freezer destroys the plant’s cell membranes. So defrosted fruits and vegetables lose their firmness and are very soft. But they’re still nutritious and have many uses.
Unlike prepping strawberries for refrigeration, strawberries should be washed (not soaked) and patted dry before you freeze them. Then, the berries are ready to use when you take them out of the freezer.
According to the FDA, strawberries can safely be stored in the freezer for 8 to 12 months from the date you purchased them.
Here’s how to prep strawberries before storing them in the freezer:
- Wash the berries but do not soak them
- Pat dry with a paper towel or tea towel
- Remove the stem with a paring knife
- Slice, cut, or leave the strawberries whole, depending on how you plan to use them later
- Store in a plastic freezer bag or container
Freezer hack: Freeze on a sheet pan (¼ sheet pan should fit in a freezer) until frozen, so they don’t freeze together, then transfer to a freezer bag or container.
What to do with frozen strawberries
While previously frozen berries are soft, they’re still nutritious. And they can be used in many recipes that require firm, fresh berries for good results.
- Smoothies taste best when made with frozen fruits. The smoothie will have a thicker and frothier consistency with frozen fruit than when you use ice cubes.
- Strawberry preserves from frozen strawberries work just fine! Defrosted strawberries are soft, so they break down nicely when you cook them in sugar and thickeners such as pectin or cornstarch.
- Strawberry cake filling for sheet cakes or strawberry shortcakes
- Strawberry sauce for ice cream or pancakes
- Strawberry popsicles are an easy way to use strawberries before they go bad. To make these, you’ll need a popsicle mold. Follow steps 1-4 above, puree, and add to the mold before freezing.
Ideas to Use Strawberries Up Before They Go Bad
Strawberries aren’t just for dessert.
Here are more ways to use up fresh or frozen strawberries:
- Top yogurt, a salad, cold cereal, or hot cereal with fresh strawberries
- Toss strawberries into a salad like this strawberry balsamic spinach salad
- Make your own acai bowl and save yourself a trip to the store (and save money too!)
- Top pancakes with berries or add a strawberry puree to the pancake mix
- Fruit salad or fruit kababs
- Strawberry muffins
- Grill strawberries with a drizzle of balsamic glaze
- Dip strawberries in chocolate and refrigerate
- Add strawberries to a chicken and spinach wrap
- Strawberry shortcake (with leftover biscuits!)
- Make this berry trifle for a crowd-pleasing dessert
Wrap It UP
There’s nothing like a perfectly ripe, firm, and sweet strawberry, especially when it’s right from the fine. But it’s inconvenient to buy and eat strawberries within 2-3 days. And not everyone has a strawberry patch nearby!
The next best thing is to buy them when they’re in season and at their lowest price. Then, they’ll last a little longer in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer with proper storage.
What are some of your favorite ways to use up strawberries? Let me know in the comments below.
About Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD
I’m a food loving Registered Dietitian. I help families plan meals, reduce food waste and save money on food!