There is nothing better than a freshly picked strawberry. They’re so juicy and sweet with just the right texture. The problem is, not everyone can have a garden full of tasty treats. Even if they could, it’s really hard to keep them growing and producing year-round.
Whether from the store in those annoyingly difficult to open clamshell packages or hand picked from the plant itself, sometimes the only real option is to store them. Keep reading for ways to keep those delicious organic strawberries fresh for as long as possible.
Don’t Prepare Them in Advance
Strawberries do best long term when they are unwashed, their stems are kept on, and they are dry. Only wash and remove the stems right before they are going to be eaten or used and that alone will help prolong their shelf life. Just leave them alone until it’s time to eat, can, dehydrate, or bake with them.
Just remember to always remove any spoiled fruit immediately or they’re going to ruin the whole bunch!
Give Them a Vinegar Bath
It’s common knowledge to at least rinse off produce before consuming it. That way it will help get rid of all the bacteria left to fester on it while on the shelf or while outside. With strawberries, it’s best to clean them off with a vinegar bath as that helps both disinfect them and helps keep them fresh for at least a week.
Here’s how to give strawberries a vinegar bath:
- Mix 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water
- Soak for at least 5 minutes
- Put in a strainer or colander and rinse with clean water
- Let them dry as thoroughly as possible
- Line a storage container with paper towels
- Cover with a lid and store
The best part is that the strawberries will not taste like vinegar at all, therefore it doesn’t matter if the vinegar used is apple cider or distilled white. That part depends entirely on personal preference. After their bath, decide how and where to store them.
Leave Them on the Counter
If the strawberries are going to be eaten quickly, it’s actually best to leave them on the counter at room temperature. Just cover them with a paper towel or put them in a sealed container right there and they’ll be fine for a day at least.
Do note that they shouldn’t be washed or have their stems removed before leaving them on the counter. Rinse them off and either cut off the green or bite it off when it’s time to eat. However, leaving them on the counter is only a viable solution for short term freshness. They will eventually need to be stored in a cool space longer term.
Refrigerate in a Glass Container
It is very important to note that in order to keep strawberries fresh, they need to stay dry. The best way to do this long term is to keep them stored in a glass container.
Here are some tips to keep strawberries fresh in a refrigerated glass container:
- Do not wash them before storing them: Only wash right before they are going to be eaten or used
- Make sure they are dry: The added moisture stuck in the container will cause them to rot faster
- Do not cut the stems off before storing them: This helps increase their shelf life
- Line the bottom of the container with paper towel: This helps keep them dry
- Do not pack them on top of each other: If there are too many to lay flat, separate layers with paper towels
- Remove any spoiled fruit immediately: One rotten fruit will spoil the rest
Glass is both easier to clean and less porous than plastic, making it a better option for storing fruit. It’s not going to let in cold, moist air from the fridge into the container and ruin all that great drying that happened beforehand.
Frozen fruit is delicious and is a great way to store them for extended periods of time. A frozen strawberry can be stored for up to 3 months. They’re also great for putting into smoothies and other cold drinks, negating the need for ice. When the intent is to freeze them, the no washing, no removing the stems suggestion can be ignored.
Here is how to go about storing strawberries in the freezer:
- Wash them
- Dry them
- Remove the stems
- Cut into slices
- Lay flat and freeze until solid
After they are frozen, they can then be transferred to an airtight bag or container to take up less space in the freezer. Laying them flat first just helps prevent them from sticking together! If three months is still not enough time, consider canning or dehydrating them to keep them edible for considerably longer.
How to Tell if Organic Strawberries Have Gone Bad
Ideally, strawberries should be small, plump, firm, and light red. Those giant, deep red strawberries that everyone seems to want are not going to be quite as juicy as the smaller ones.
Here are some ways to tell if the strawberries have gone bad:
- Obvious mold
- Squishy fruit
- Dark spots
- Small holes
Don’t leave spoiled fruit in with the others, otherwise it’s going to ruin the whole batch! Take a good look at them before purchasing or bringing them in from the plant.
Strawberries are beloved, tasty fruits that can last a significant time if they are stored properly. In the short term, they do just fine being left out on the counter. However, usually people aren’t going to eat them all in a day or so and they need to be stored. Keeping them dry with their stems on is key to prolonging their shelf-life, with a nice vinegar bath being a preferred method of keeping them fresh for at least a week.
Always remember not to wash them or remove their stems before storing them unless it’s to keep them frozen, canned, or dehydrated otherwise they will go bad much faster. Also always remove moldy, squishy, dark fruit from the bunch to keep them fresh and tasty!
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