Strawberries, like many other fruits, are best consumed fresh just after picking. However, this is rarely possible when most of our food comes from the local supermarket. All fruits and vegetables begin to deteriorate immediately after they’ve been picked. However, proper storage techniques can optimize their freshness and allow enjoyment for longer periods of time. Strawberries are best stored in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on the predicted storage time.
Strawberries are best stored in the refrigerator as soon as they’re brought home. However, storing in their original packaging can be detrimental and cause rapid deterioration. The supermarket’s packaging is not optimal for keeping your berries fresh. If one berry begins to spoil, all others will soon follow suit.
For the best results, remove the strawberries from the original package and place them in a single layer on a large plate, tray or baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. Keep them refrigerated until just before serving, and then allow them to sit at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes before washing and consuming. Never wash strawberries before refrigerating, as this can expedite spoiling.
If possible, store the plate or tray of berries in the vegetable crisper, and maintain a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. They will last approximately two to four days in this environment. If you won’t be consuming the berries within this time period, freezing may be the best storage method.
When you need to store strawberries for longer periods of time, open freezing provides the best results. Do not wash prior to freezing, as this can encourage freezer burn. Instead, brush them off and remove any visible debris. Spread the berries in a single layer on a large baking sheet and place in the freezer uncovered for 3 to 4 hours, or until frozen through.
Once the strawberries are frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet and transfer to sturdy zipper-lock freezer bags. Label the bags with the contents and the date, and then return to the freezer. They will stay fresh for up to one year, as long as they remain frozen at all times. Do not refreeze strawberries which have been thawed, as they will become freezer burned quite easily. Instead, consume them immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
To thaw, empty the desired amount of berries into a large bowl and allow them to sit at room temperature for approximately 3 hours. If pressed for time, you may place the freezer bag directly into a large pan of warm water for 30 to 45 minutes. Use as desired.
References and ResourcesWill It Freeze?; Joan Hood; 2002
Room by Room: Kitchens: Your House Made Simple; Lillian Hayes Martin; 2008
Chef's Secrets: Insider Techniques from Today's Culinary Masters; Francine Maroukian; 2004