Strawberries are popular for all sorts of reasons. These heart-shaped fruits burst with flavor and boast of versatile uses, without exhausting one’s palate.
When stocking up, the basic question to ask yourself is, “how long do strawberries last?
Being aware of their shelf life sets precedence of how you will use, store and preserve your crates of strawberries.
Do Strawberries Have To Be Refrigerated?
Whereas strawberries are highly perishable, refrigerating prolongs their shelf life a little more. So, yes! Go ahead and pop them in the fridge.
Whether whole or sliced, here are a few tricks to make strawberries last longer in the fridge:
- Soak the strawberries in a solution of water and white wine vinegar (1 part vinegar to 7 parts water). This loosens dislodged soil and kills off mold or bacteria.
- If buying, retain the original containers used. They are normally perforated to allow air circulation. This keeps the fruits dry.
- If using your own harvested fruits, line a container with paper towel. Arrange the strawberries neatly. Cover the container loosely to prevent condensation. The paper towel also helps in absorbing condensation or moisture.
- Alternatively, place the strawberries in perforated brown bags.
- Place the containers or bags at the back of the fridge which is cooler than the front.
Well refrigerated strawberries last up to 7 days.
On the other hand, if you have freshly harvested punnets of strawberries, you can leave them on the counter for up to 2 days.
Use wooden pellets or crates which are great for air circulation. However, protect them from fruit flies, pests, direct sunlight and heat sources.
Do Strawberries Go Bad In The Fridge?
Absolutely! Since strawberries are soft in texture, avoid cramming them up in a container. This easily causes bruising which hastens spoilage.
How Long Do Strawberries Last Once Cut?
Not long! Cutting dries them out quickly.
To store cut ones:
- Drizzle the cut side with lemon juice.
- Place the slices in seal-able containers for up to 3 days.
How Long Do Strawberries Last (In The Freezer)
Cut or whole, strawberries keep well when frozen. You can freeze strawberries in various ways.
Here is how to freeze strawberries with sugar:
Method 1 – Sugar syrup pack
- Prepare sugar syrup by boiling water and sugar in a ratio of 1:4 (1 cup water to 4 cups of sugar) or any amount you desire.
- Leave the mixture to boil and cool completely.
- Pack clean strawberries in freezer-friendly containers.
- Pour the cold syrup in each container, ensuring the fruits are covered well.
- Leave ample head space due to expansion during freezing.
- Label and freeze.
Method 2 – Dry Sugar Rub
Use whole, sliced or pureed strawberries. Nonetheless, this method works well when freezing strawberry puree.
- Mix the fruits with lemon juice prior to coating with sugar. This prevents oxidization.
- Coat the strawberries generously with sugar.
- If using puree, pour them into individual molds and flash-freeze. If using whole or sliced ones, arrange the coated pieces onto a lined tray and flash-freeze.
- Once frozen and hard, transfer onto airtight bags or plastic containers.
- Label and freeze.
Sugar helps to retain flavor, imparts sweetness onto the fruits and prevents freezer burns.
When well frozen, they remain in good quality for up to 12 months.
How To Freeze Strawberries Without Plastic
Most storage items are made of plastic. It is not only cheap, it is readily available too. However, if you are environmentally conscious, you have other storage options. These include:
- Wrap the frozen fruits in heavy-duty foil. Portion them into small batches.
- Store frozen fruits in freezer-friendly bowls.
- Use glass jars.
Do Strawberries Get Mushy After Freezing?
Factors that affect strawberry quality after freezing include:
- Freezing technique used. Mushiness applies to whole frozen strawberries. As such, before freezing whole fruits, select firm, unblemished ones. Avoid freezing overripe strawberries. Apart from this, dip them in lemon juice to preserve color and prevent oxidization.
- Storage containers used. Opt for airtight bags or containers for optimal results. Squeeze out excess air before sealing the containers.
- Freezing temperatures. Always maintain a constant temperature of 0° and below.
How to Preserve
Make Preserves Like Jam, Jelly, Marmalade
Making any preserves is a fairly easy process as long as you maintain the ratios of ingredients.
- The traditional way of making jam involves boiling the entire fruit in sugar and water until the mixture reduces to a gel, thick, highly concentrated mixture.
- This can take several hours since strawberries lack enough pectin which is responsible for the gel-like texture. Alternatively, you can add commercially bought pectin to reduce the time spent.
- Once cooled, pour into sterilized mason jars and store.
- On the other hand, when making jelly, use strawberry juice and sugar, as opposed to the whole fruit. Use similar procedure as for jam. The end result is a clear, jelly mass. Use strawberry jelly in making sweets or gum.
Drying or dehydrating is another great way to prolong the shelf life of strawberries.
The safest way is to use a dehydrator as the berries will remain enclosed and under a controlled temperature.
Use sliced or pureed strawberries.
Arrange or pour onto lined trays. Spread well to ensure thorough drying.
When well-dried, they are leathery and brittle. There is also no visible moisture in the flesh when sliced through.
Store in mason jars, in a cool, dry place, preferably at 60℉ (15℃).
Use home-dried strawberries within 1 year.
How Do You Keep Strawberries Fresh Longer?
- Avoid washing before storage. Avoid any contact with moisture to prevent the growth of mold. These fruits are also porous, hence will soak up any moisture or water and decay within no time.
- Retain the green leaves and stem as long as possible. Keep them dry as well.
- Minimize squeezing or bruising the fruit in any way as this exacerbates rotting.
- Be on the lookout for any spoiled strawberry among a bunch of strawberries and remove it immediately. This prevents the rot from spreading.
- For sliced pieces, always coat with lemon or lime juice. This prevents oxidization and shriveling.
There are innumerable ways in which you can make good use of these decadent, tangy fruits:
- Blend in smoothies.
- Make jams, jellies, canning and preserves. Strawberry jam is a common delicacy in countless households.
- Eat whole or dip in melted chocolate.
- Add to fruit salads.
- Use in baby food purees.
- Incorporate in sweet pastries such as pies. They are also pureed and used in sauces to drizzle over tarts and pastries.
- Prepare various sweet treats, candies and chewing gums.
- Extract as flavor which is used in culinary arts for imparting flavor in yogurts, milk, tea, juices, compotes, energy drinks and food coloring.
- In cosmetics and beauty. Pureed or extracted flavor is added on face and body creams as well as lotions. Not only does it give off a sweet scent, the fruit is highly valued for its rich vitamins and antioxidants that benefit the skin.
- Use in baking. Baking recipes include shortcakes, cakes, scones and cookies. Strawberries are also used as toppings for other desserts. They are also mashed and added in frostings and icings.
How Do You Know If Strawberries Have Gone Bad?
Here is how to identify spoilage:
- Visible mold on the skin or stems is a clear indication of spoilage. Look out for whitish or grayish mold. Discard the fruits immediately.
- Discoloration on the skin or flesh. Black or dark brown patches usually mean that expiration has set in.
- Pungent odor. Rotting is usually characterized by an unusual smell. Look out for any pungent smell.
- Mushy and shriveled texture is also another indication of expiration.
Savor the countless uses of strawberries by handling them with care. Try out the different storage techniques to prolong their shelf life so as to enjoy strawberries all year round.