It's that wonderful time of year when bright-red strawberries have made their return. They're soft, sweet, and bursting with flavor. Our first taste of summer.
Whether you plan to eat the whole carton out of hand (I can't blame you!), or you have a stack of recipes at the ready to put them to use, the real key to making those berries hold up is storing them properly. Do you know the right way to store strawberries?
The best way to store strawberries depends on when you plan to use them. Remember, strawberries are a soft, delicate fruit and should be treated with care. The last thing you want is a basket of moldy berries soon after bringing them home.
3 Rules for Storing Strawberries
1. Wash as you go.
Wash strawberries only before eating them. This is important for two reasons. Strawberries are like sponges, so once wet, they soak up every bit of moisture, making them more likely to get mushy and spoil faster. Also, wet berries are more apt to get moldy.
2. Leave the stems on as long as possible.
Keeping the stems on until you're about to eat the strawberries will prolong their shelf life.
3. Don't let one berry spoil the whole bunch.
If you notice any moldy berries in the container, remove them immediately. Mold spreads easily, so it's best to remove any spoiled berries before they ruin the rest of the bunch. If you're buying berries by the clamshell at the grocery store, flip them over to inspect the bunch. If you spot a mold berry, keep looking for a better selection.
As for where to store strawberries, it all depends on when you plan to use them.
3 Places to Store Strawberries
1. Right away? Store on the countertop.
If you plan to use strawberries the day you bring them home, there's no need to put them in the fridge. You can leave them at room temperature on the kitchen counter.
2. Tomorrow? In the refrigerator.
If you don't plan to eat your strawberries the day you bring them home, the best place for them is in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It helps to maintain humidity and keep the berries from losing moisture and becoming dry.
Remove the berries from their original container, and store them whole and unwashed in a partially-closed container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture, preferably in a single layer so they don't get crushed. They should last up to five to seven days.
3. Later in the year? In the freezer.
If you don't have plans to use strawberries within a few days of bringing them home, your best bet is to freeze them. Remove the stems, halve or slice them if you like, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid. Store in an airtight container or ziptop freezer bag.