How to Store Cut Strawberries, and Why You Shouldn't Wash Them First

Make sure to store your strawberries in the refrigerator to help keep them fresh.

When strawberries are in season, it's hard to resist taking home a pint of red, juicy fruit to eat immediately. But what's the best way to store cut strawberries?

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Washed and sliced strawberries should be stored, covered, in the fridge and it's best to use them as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.

The Best Way to Store Cut Strawberries

Strawberries should be stored in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (ideally 32 degrees F) and the optimal humidity for berry storage should stay between 90 to 95 percent, per Colorado State University.

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Cut or sliced strawberries should be covered and kept in the fridge if they are not eaten within two hours of preparation. (This also holds true if you cut up strawberries with sugar, like if you're cutting strawberries for a strawberry shortcake or simply want to have sliced strawberries on hand.)

Uncut fruit should be kept in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator preferably in a closed plastic container or in a partially opened plastic bag. Unwashed strawberries can be kept in the fridge for not more than a week, although you'll probably want to eat them within a few days.

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Tip

If you plan to eat your strawberries the day you bring them home, you may leave them on the counter until you’re ready to enjoy them. Wash the strawberries in a colander under running water then gently pat dry.

How to Cut and Wash Strawberries Safely

When fresh produce is cut, it increases the risk of bacterial growth and contamination by breaking the natural exterior barrier of the fruit or vegetable, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When produce is chopped or shredded, it releases plant cell fluids that allow pathogens to survive or grow.

The FDA advises following certain guidelines when preparing fresh produce at home, including strawberries. First, choose produce that isn't bruised or damaged, and make sure that precut items (like bags of lettuce or watermelon slices) are either refrigerated or on ice, both in the store and at home.

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When preparing fresh produce, such as slicing strawberries for fruit trays, make sure to:

  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after washing your berries.
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
  • Gently rub strawberries while holding them under plain running water — you don't need to use soap or a produce wash.
  • Dry the strawberries with a clean cloth or paper towel.

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How to Store Washed Strawberries

Strawberries should not be washed until just before eating or preparing, as water will add moisture and lead to spoilage.

How to Freeze Cut Strawberries

If you're concerned about storing cut fruit safely, you may wish to freeze the strawberries instead. Here's how to do so:

  • Wash the strawberries according to the method described above.
  • Remove the caps with a knife.
  • Place the strawberries in a plastic bag or canning jar, seal tightly and place in the freezer for up to one year.

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You could also try mixing in 2/3 cup of granulated sugar to your sliced strawberries, with the theory that the sugar pack preserves flavor, according to PennState Extension. But keep in mind that this isn't necessary and will add added sugars to your day.

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