How to Store Fresh Strawberries

Use these storage techniques to keep hand-picked strawberries fresh.
Use proper storage to keep strawberries fresh.

Storing Strawberries

Use proper storage to keep strawberries fresh.

Use proper storage to keep strawberries fresh.

I grow a few strawberry plants every year, and the best berries of the season are usually those picked in the yard and eaten as I survey the garden, anticipating a summer of luscious, homegrown crops. Growing strawberries at home is a pleasure I wouldn’t give up, but with “U-Pick-'Em” fields and the farmers' market offering the succulent, crimson berry for the next few weeks, the select strawberries from my yard will be overshadowed by gallons and gallons of sourced berries to be cooked into jam, churned into ice cream, served in smoothies and desserts or, best of all, eaten fresh by the fistful.

Fresh strawberries are an unparalleled spring delight, but all too fleeting. Picking more than you can eat this season? Whether you intend to eat them today or six months from now, knowing how to store strawberries will ensure you get the best flavor without losing a single berry to a notoriously short shelf life.

One to Two Days

Fresh strawberries can go directly into the refrigerator, but will do just fine on the counter for a couple of days. Remove any bruised or otherwise marred berries and place the rest in a colander or open-weave basket to allow good airflow. Stems should be left intact until the berry is ready to be eaten to protect the mold-prone, wet flesh inside from exposure. While it is tempting to wash strawberries as soon as you get them home, resist the urge. Strawberries will soak up the water, making them more susceptible to spoilage. Even with careful handling, strawberries won't last longer than a few days without refrigeration.

Three to Seven Days

Moisture is an enemy of the fresh strawberry. The inclination may be to store them in airtight containers, but strawberries will rot more quickly when the moisture is trapped inside. Even the plastic containers in which many grocery store strawberries are packed are a bad choice for refrigerator storage. Instead, immediately pack strawberries loosely in an open container or wide pan lined with paper towels to help wick water away from the delicate berries. Colanders are perfect for strawberry storage, allowing air to circulate freely. Unlike whole berries, once strawberries have been cut or hulled, they should be stored in an airtight container to protect the exposed flesh from mold and bacterial development, significantly reducing shelf life.

Eight Days to Six Months (and Beyond)

Strawberry season only lasts a few weeks, and there’s a reason it’s so hotly anticipated. Fresh strawberries picked just a week ago are already past their prime, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy this year’s haul well beyond the expiration date. Dry-freezing strawberries will retain much of the flavor and some texture for up to six months and can be stored for as long as a year (with some loss of quality). Strawberries canned or frozen in syrup keep some flavor, but will be soft and are best used in baking or stirred into yogurt or oatmeal. Then, of course, there’s strawberry jam.

Freezing comes closest to retaining the qualities of fresh-picked strawberries. Other tactics for long-term storage have their appeal as well, but no preservation method can truly retain the vibrant flavor and firm texture of freshly harvested strawberries.

Time to get picking!

Next Up

How to Grow Strawberries

Here’s what you need to know to plant strawberries and grow summer’s juiciest, sweetest fruit.

Can I Plant Blueberries and Raspberries Together?

They’re both berries, so they should go together like peanut butter and jelly, right? Wrong.

How to Grow Ground Cherries

If you've never heard of ground cherries, give them a try. These orange-yellow fruits add a sweet, tart flavor to foods and make a healthy snack.

How to Freeze Corn on the Cob

Whether you're freezing your garden crop or just want to preserve the bounty from the farmers' market, this easy step-by-step guide will give you the tips you need to freeze corn on the cob.

How to Dry Flowers and Preserve Their Beauty

Discover the best ways to preserve your flowers' beauty with our flower preservation guide. Learn how to dry flowers with 5 different methods.

How to Grow Blueberries

Blueberry plants can produce fruits for decades. Learn how to plant and maintain them the right way so they will reward you with delicious berries for years to come.

Planting and Growing Spinach

Spinach is a fast-growing, cool-season vegetable that can be harvested in as little as a month after you plant it. Here's what you need to know to grow a bountiful crop.

How to Tell If a Watermelon Is Ripe

These eight easy tricks will help you tell when watermelons are ripe and ready to buy or to harvest.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Whip up some homemade strawberry jam with these easy steps.

How to Freeze Green Beans

Preserve your green bean harvest or farmers' market haul with this easy step-by-step tutorial from farm-to-table experts on how to freeze green beans.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.