During the strawberry season, you'll find berries piled high at your grocery store or roadside stands across the country. The plump fruit brings to mind fruity desserts, strawberries over cereal and indulging without added sugar. But strawberries are notoriously delicate and don't keep well after picking. When purchasing strawberries, look for signs of fresh berries. When you bring the strawberries home, check for signs that the berries have gone bad before you eat them or add them to recipes.
Look for splotches or a dull exterior, which indicate the strawberries are overripe and may have been bruised. Overripe strawberries have an intense flavor, and you can still use them in recipes so long as it's within a day. They may not be good for eating on their own or using as garnishes.
Press a few of the strawberries with your index finger. A ripe berry should be firm but still give slightly to the pressure. If your finger pokes easily into the flesh, the strawberries are overripe.
Smell the berries. Ripe strawberries are highly aromatic. While a less ripe strawberry may have an earthy, bitter smell, a perfectly ripe berry will smell sweet. If the berries have a rotten odor, they've gone bad.
Check the berries all over the container for signs of mold. Strawberry mold usually starts out white in color, progressing to a light greenish gray. Never consume a strawberry that has mold growing on any part of the exterior. Discard it.
A strawberry should be sweet and juicy. A rubbery texture or a sickly-sweet strawberry means an overripe or decomposing strawberry.