I eagerly stalk the farmer’s market each spring, looking for the first sign of strawberries. Once berry season arrives, I’m a woman on a mission, snatching up all the berries!
But there’s one big problem, all those berries can quickly rot. The worst, right?!
Over the years, I’ve experimented with how to keep strawberries fresh and make strawberries last longer. Today, I’m sharing the best way to wash, clean, and store strawberries.
And while we’re talking about strawberries specifically today, this storage hack applies to blueberries and blackberries as well!
First, it’s important to point out that no matter how you clean, wash, and store berries, a bad bunch of berries is just that.
No washing, cleaning, or storing will delay the inevitable if the berries have already gone bad or already shows signs of mushiness and mold.
What to look for when buying strawberries
- Bright Red Color: The strawberries shouldn’t be white (unless you’re buying Pineberries), brown, or any other discoloration.
- Shiny: Fresh berries should have a vibrant shine. (Blueberries, on the other hand, should have a cloudy film on the exterior.)
- Mold Free: One or two berries with mold is not awful, but the mold spores can travel to other berries and cause the berries to rot faster.
- Firm: There shouldn’t be any soft spots on the berries, or any berries secreting juice.
- Flip the Carton Over: Gently flip the carton over, looking at all berries to ensure none are smashed or have mold growth.
Avoid These Storage Mistakes
Many folks buy strawberries, then come home and place the plastic carton in the fridge. This is the best way to get moldy, shriveled up strawberries that turn into mush.
Another storage mistake is to wash the berries and immeadiately place them in the fridge. Moisture is the enemy of berries and if the water is left on the delicate berries, decay will quickly take over.
Keep strawberries fresh, plump, and mold free
- remove strawberries from their original container
- clean and wash them properly
- dry thoroughly
- Store in a way the promotes freshness, for longer, using the fridge or freezer
Clean & Wash Strawberries With Vinegar
After bringing strawberries home from the market, u-pick farm, or store, the first step is to wash and clean the berries. The best way to do this is with a vinegar bath.
Whenever I suggest this, I’m usually met with resistance, “But I don’t want my berries to taste like vinegar!”
I promise the berries will not taste like vinegar. The vinegar doesn’t change the flavor of the strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries in anyway.
To make a vinegar bath, combine 3 cups of water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in a sink, bowl, or salad spinner basin. Add the berries to the mixture and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Then rinse with fresh water and dry on a towel.
Why Use a Vinegar Bath?
Vinegar kills mold spores and bacteria on the berries. Mold spores can cause the berries to spoil prematurely.
Of course, if you keep the berries in your fridge for a month, mold will set in and spoilage will occur. This is a REAL food and that’s what happens to fresh food without preservatives.
Using a vinegar bath, paired with proper storage, will keep berries fresh for about 2 weeks.
How to Store in the Fridge
The best way to store strawberries in the fridge is in a glass jar with a lid (like this) and line the jar with a paper towel.
Have you noticed that an absorbent pad is placed at the bottom of blackberry and raspberry containers? This is for a reason!
Too much moisture on your berries will cause them to rot, grow mold, and turn to mush. All the things we don’t want!
This is why we add a paper towel, to absorb extra moisture that builds up.
- After washing in a vinegar bath, place a towel on the counter and place the berries in a single layer on the towel. Air dry for 1-2 hours. Or, dry individually with a towel.
- Line a glass jar with a paper towel.
- Once dry, place the berries in the jar, on top of the paper towel, and secure the lid. Store the berries in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Never store any berries with mold or extreme bruising. Cut off the spoiled parts and use the berries ASAP. You don’t want the spoiled berries to corrupt the healthy bunch!
Keep the green tops on the strawberries and don’t cut before storing in the fridge. It’s best to cut just before enjoying.
How to Store in the Freezer
When strawberries are in season, stock up and freeze! Freezing is a great way to store berries long-term (6 months).
The best way to freeze berries is to first wash them, flash freeze on a sheet pan (to avoid berries sticking together), then transfer to a storage bag.
- Wash and clean the berries. Since you’re not storing them in the fridge and don’t need to worry about mold growth, clean them in fresh water. Or, if you want to remove dirt and other bacteria, use a vinegar bath.
- Dry the berries on a towel on the counter. Once dry, remove the leafy green parts and place on a parchment paper line baking sheet, in a single layer. Freeze for 1 hour, or until frozen solid.
- Add the frozen berries to a freezer bag for long-term storage (about 6 months).
Learn more: How to Freeze Fresh Berries
Step By Step Instructions
Here’s how to wash, clean, and store berries so they remain fresh, vibrant, and last longer.
While we’re specifically talking about strawberries here, you can use this same hack for blueberries or blackberries.
It’s best to not wash raspberries, and keep them in their original container due to their delicate nature.
Step 1: Make a Vinegar Bath
In a large bowl (I use a salad spinner) or sink, add 3 cups of water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Add as much water and vinegar as needed to cover the berries.
The vinegar bath removes mold spores currently on the berries, which can cause the berries to spoil and grow mold prematurely. By stopping the mold spores from growing, you’ll extend the life of your fresh berries for days!
Step 2: Soak
Add the berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries) to the vinegar bath and soak for about 5-10 minutes.
Step 3: Rinse and Dry
Remove the berries and rinse with fresh water. Dry on a towel. The drying process may take several hours, depending on how many berries you have. Or, dry each berry individually with a towel.
Why use a salad spinner? I find using a salad spinner is easier to use than a bowl or sink.
Put the berries in the basket portion and fill the salad spinner base with the vinegar bath. When the berries are done soaking, pick up the basket to drain and rinse the berries under fresh water.
The salad spinner is not used for drying. It’s used for soaking, draining, and rinsing. For this method, you don’t need the lid for the salad spinner, just the bowl and basket portion.
Step 4: Store
Once dry, store the berries in a towel lined container with a lid. Place the container in the fridge.
If you don’t want to use a paper towel, I’ve found the Produce Keepers from OXO also work extremely well for storing berries (no paper towel needed!).
Consume the berries within 1-2 weeks.
Or, cut off the tops and store in the freezer. Learn how to freeze strawberries here.
What to Make with Fresh Strawberries
The berries are washed, cleaned, and stored away in the fridge. Now you’re ready to enjoy them. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use fresh berries…
What to Make with Frozen Strawberries
Frozen strawberries aren’t plump like fresh berries, so they can be a challenge to use in different ways. Of course, we all love a smoothie made with frozen berries. Here are a few more ways to put them use…
6 Must-Know Food Storage Hacks
How to Keep Strawberries Fresh and Make Berries Last Longer
- large bowl salad spinner or sink for soaking berries
- glass jar with lid for storage
- paper towel for storage
- towel for drying berries
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup vinegar white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Step 1: Make a Vinegar Bath
- In a large bowl (I use a salad spinner) or sink, add 3 cups of water to 1/4 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Step 2: Soak
- Let the berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries) soak for about 5-10 minutes in the vinegar bath.
Step 3: Dry
- Remove the berries, rinse with fresh water, and dry on a towel on the counter. Or, individually dry the berries with a towel. You don't want any moisture left on the berries before storing in the fridge.