Sometimes you can pick up a box of strawberries from the grocery store that looks sweet and delicious, but the berries are hard and bitter! Or maybe there were some unripe green strawberries hidden at the bottom of the box. Don't worry, I have four easy ways to learn how to ripen strawberries.
Method 1 - Room Temperature
This is personally my favorite method because it produces the best results. But you need to keep a close eye on your strawberries to make sure they don't get bruised or become overripe.
- Don’t wash or cut the tops off.
- Spread the strawberries out on a flat plate so they aren’t touching each other.
- Leave them out at room temperature for 1 to 3 days to ripen.
- Gently flip the strawberries over once each day, to prevent one side from getting bruised.
- Watch them closely to avoid any strawberries becoming too soft or moldy.
- Store ripened strawberries in the fridge.
- Wash and cut when you're ready to eat them.
Method 2 - Brown Paper Bag
Many fruits including strawberries emit ethylene gas, which is a plant hormone that ripens the fruit.
Apples, pears, and bananas emit a large amount of ethylene gas, so fruit stored near these fruits will ripen faster. We can use this to our advantage to get unripe strawberries to ripen more quickly.
The brown paper bag helps to retain and concentrate the ethylene gas. This helps speed up the ripening process.
- Place the strawberries in a brown paper bag with an apple, pear, or banana.
- Place the bag on its side so the strawberries are in a flat layer. You don't want any stacked on top of each other, which could cause bruising as they ripen.
- Check daily, and your strawberries should be ripe after 2 to 3 days.
- Wash and cut when you're ready to eat them.
Method 3 - Wash in Vinegar
First of all, I promise your strawberries won't taste like pickles after soaking them in a vinegar bath! Once you rinse them in cold running water, any vinegar smell and taste will be removed from your strawberries.
This method doesn't inherently ripen strawberries faster. But by soaking your berries in vinegar, any mold spores that may be on the berries are killed.
Therefore you can store your strawberries in the fridge for up to twice as long as berries that aren't soaked in vinegar. This gives them longer time to ripen in the fridge before spoiling.
- In a large bowl, combine one cup of white vinegar and two cups of water.
- Soak the strawberries in the vinegar bath for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Wash the strawberries in cold running water for at least 1 minute.
- Spread the strawberries out on a clean kitchen towel and allow them to dry, for about an hour.
- Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Method 4 - Macerated Strawberries
If you don't have two to three days to wait for your strawberries to ripen, there is a hack to get strawberries tasting soft and sweet in just one hour. If you want whole berries, this isn't the method for you. But if you're trying to add them to a dessert or eat them as a snack, this hack work great!
- Wash the strawberries, remove the green tops and cut away any large unripe white or green sections.
- Slice the strawberries.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add your sliced strawberries and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
I usually use about 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for every 1 cup of fruit.
- Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, fresh strawberries will continue to ripen after they're picked, even if they're picked while still green.
Strawberries ripen the fastest when left on the counter at room temperature. But watch them closely, to avoid them becoming overripe, bruised, or even moldy.
Yes, storing strawberries in a paper bag will concentrate the ethylene gas they produce, which helps them ripen. They'll ripen even faster if stored in a paper bag with a banana, apple or pear.
It's best to store strawberries out of direct sunlight. If you are going to ripen strawberries at room temperature, keep them away from direct sunlight and away from hot temperatures, like near the stove.
Moldy strawberries are perfectly fine to add into your compost. In fact, mold is a microorganism that can aid in the decomposition of your compost.
Yes, the green leaves on the tops of strawberries are perfectly edible. I actually knew someone in high school who would pop the whole strawberry in his mouth - leaves and all!
Strawberries are best stored in the fridge. If they're kept at room temperature for more than a couple days after being picked, they could bruise or become moldy.
Strawberries that aren't washed or sliced can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. Once you wash or slice strawberries, they'll only last a few days in the fridge before they start to turn overripe.
However, if you soak your strawberries in a vinegar bath (see method #3 above), they'll last up to about 2 weeks in the fridge.
Strawberries freeze really well. Wash them and lay them out for at least one hour on a kitchen towel to dry.
Spread them out on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for a couple hours, until the berries are frozen solid. Transfer them to an airtight container or freezer safe bag to store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Symptoms of Spoiled Strawberries
Sometimes it happens. Berries may go bad before they can all be used up. So how do you tell if your strawberries are going bad?
If your strawberries feel really mushy instead of firm, they are probably overripe and beginning to break down. If it's at the very beginning stages of decomposition, you can sometimes just cut away the mushy part and still use the rest of the strawberry. But sometimes the whole strawberry taste gross when it's at this stage.
As strawberries decompose, they start to leak liquid because their cell walls are breaking down. If you notice your strawberries are leaking out liquid, it's probably time to toss them.
If you see mold, usually white fuzz growing on the strawberry, it's definitely time to toss them in the trash or compost bin. Moldy food is not safe to eat, even if you cut away the visible moldy part.
I used to be guilty of doing everything possible to save and consume food that had spoiled. But I'll tell you where it led me - to food poisoning!
My best advice is to plan how you're going to use all your fruits and veggies before you buy them. Then you'll have an action plan in place to use everything before it becomes inedible.
More Strawberry Recipes
Now that you have an abundance of perfectly sweet and ripe strawberries, use them in these delicious recipes!