This guide to strawberries will tell you everything you need to know about the late spring berry including how to pick, store, cook and bake with them.

Fresh strawberries in a bowl on a white surface.
Photo credit: Pexels.
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It’s crazy how much of a difference a couple of weeks makes when it comes to seasonal produce, especially in late spring when everything starts to come to life. A trip to the farmer’s market in April might only result in a lonely bag of pea shoots that got to put good use in this sweet pea lemon crepe cake, but in late May, your experience can be quite different.

Strawberries are special because they’re the first fruit that really signifies spring (if you’re not counting rhubarb — which is technically a vegetable anyway) They’re a welcome sight of red juicy deliciousness after a long winter of apples, pears and citrus, all of which are delicious but very much NOT a berry.

Everything You Need To Know About Strawberries

Whether you’re picking these red gems off plants in your garden or buying them fresh from the market or store, here’s what you’ll want to know about strawberries to make the most of them.

Fresh strawberries in a plastic container.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Strawberry season

Strawberries hit their peak season between the months of May and August, although this will very much depend on your location. In New York, where I live, locally grown strawberries are primarily available from late May through July.

Selecting fresh strawberries

When it comes to enjoying the juiciest strawberries, the key is to start with the freshest ones available. Keep an eye out for the best picks at the store, a farmer’s market or a local strawberry field. Here are some handy tips for selecting ripe and fresh strawberries:

  • Look for vibrant color: Choose berries that are rich red all over, indicating ripeness. Strawberries picked before full ripeness will likely be tart with white or green tips.
  • Check the stem: A green and fresh-looking stem is a good sign that the strawberry was recently picked.
  • Check firmness: Press on the strawberries; they should be firm but not overly hard, signaling ripeness.
  • Sniff for fragrance: Fresh strawberries have a sweet aroma, so give them a quick sniff to ensure they’re flavorful.
  • Avoid bruises or mold: Avoid strawberries with bruises, mushy spots or any signs of mold, as these indicate they are past their prime.

If you’re picking from field or buying locally, expect the berries to be smaller than you’re used to, don’t be deterred, the smaller berries are just as (if not more!) sweet.

Selecting the right strawberries is key for a tasty and satisfying treat. Once you’ve chosen the perfect berries, it’s important to handle them with care to maintain their freshness and flavor.

Preparation before storage

Before stashing your strawberries away, give them a little TLC. Proper preparation ensures they stay fresh for as long as possible to avoid food waste. 

Take a few moments to sort through your strawberries and remove any damaged or overripe ones, as they can speed up the spoiling process for the others.

By investing this small effort before storage, you’re extending their shelf life and guaranteeing that your strawberries will be at their prime when it’s time to indulge in delightful strawberry desserts like this strawberry almond galette. Take a few extra moments now, and you’ll be thanking yourself later when you’re savoring those perfectly fresh strawberries in your favorite treats.

A person holding a plastic container filled with fresh strawberries.
Photo credit: Pexels.

Best storage practices

There are various methods to keep strawberries fresh and delicious. The most important thing is to make sure they are dry before storage. Here are some effective techniques to help you understand how to store strawberries:

  • Refrigeration between paper towels in an airtight container: To keep your strawberries fresh, place them in a single layer between paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. This will prevent them from getting crushed by other berries. Store the strawberries in an airtight container to help them stay fresh and avoid spoiling. Keep the stems on the strawberries to protect the interior from moisture.
  • Airtight glass jars: Remove any spoiled or bruised fruit before placing it in a jar that has been thoroughly washed and dried. Keep the stems on the berries, and do not wash or rinse. Close the lid tightly to create an airtight seal. Store the jar in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Before eating the berries, rinse them once they are removed from the container.
  • Vinegar before storage: Make a solution of one part white vinegar and three parts water to remove potential mold and extend shelf life. Soak the strawberries in the solution for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Thoroughly dry the berries using a salad spinner or dry them on towels. After drying the strawberries, place them in a container lined with a paper towel in a single layer and cover with another paper towel. Loosely cover the container with the lid without sealing it, and store it in the refrigerator. 
  • Freezing: Wash and dry the strawberries before removing the stems. If the berries are big, consider cutting them into halves or quarters. Arrange them on a tray in a single layer, ensuring they are not touching. Once frozen, transfer the strawberries to a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen strawberries are perfect for smoothies, ice cream, jam or as a refreshing snack.

Extending the shelf life of strawberries

As you use up the berries, remove any spoiled ones to maintain the freshness of the remaining berries for an extended period. Additionally, periodically replace the paper towels in the storage container and rotate the strawberries to reduce the risk of mold. These simple yet effective steps contribute to the longevity and quality of your strawberry stash.

Nutritional benefits of strawberries

Strawberries are a vitamin C powerhouse. Just one cup has 113% of your daily vitamin C. Oranges usually get all the praise in this department, but strawberries are the forgotten underdog. They’re also ranked 3rd as the best source of antioxidants among all US foods.

Fun fact: Strawberries have over 200 seeds on the outside of each berry.

Strawberry soup.
Cold strawberry soup.

Our Favorite Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry yogurt chocolate chip snack cake — This cake is perfect for snacking as the name suggests. It’s a favorite among kids for an after school treat.

Honey roasted strawberry feta salad — Roasting strawberries with honey — bonus points if it’s local —brings out such dimension in their flavor. Tossed with refreshing crunchy lettuce and salty feta, you could almost call it a dessert.

Grilled chicken with strawberry basil sauce is one of my favorite seasonal spring dinners. The strawberry sauce takes a simple grilled chicken meal to the next level without much effort at all.

Strawberry tabouleh is a fun way to give this Middle Eastern dish some seasonal flair. It’s a lovely side to almost any meat or fish dinner.

For a refreshing appetizer or light meal, consider trying this strawberry soup recipe. The chilled soup is creamy, refreshing and bright. It could even be considered dessert! Plus, it’s fun to do a cold soup that’s not gazpacho from time to time.

Lastly, our strawberry oatmeal recipe uses fresh strawberries to impart real strawberry flavor into your breakfast. It beats those instant oatmeal packets by a landslide and is one of my favorite spring breakfasts to enjoy.

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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14 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to use what I learned and go pick some strawberries! It appears that I have been doing it wrong my entire life!

  2. Best season ever! Though I was a bit let down when I recently bought a pack of strawberries – turned out the ones in the middle were rotten already. Just buy in bulk and try to check if they are all of good quality beforehand.

  3. What an awesome post! Strawberry season is no joke in our house. I’ve spent so much on them already lol! And I still need to make jam, oops.