How to Pick the Juiciest Strawberries at the Store or on the Farm

Whether you're shopping at the grocery store or swinging by a u-pick farm, here's how to pick the best strawberries (and how to store them to prevent mold and mushiness).

Don’t waste a moment of strawberry season! Fresh strawberries are juicy and flavorful, and star in a huge variety of delicious recipes. The trick is knowing how to pick strawberries to spot the ripest, most flavorful berries, whether you’re at a u-pick farm, grocery store or farmers market. Here are our tips for buying and storing strawberries.

How to Pick the Best Strawberries at the Grocery Store

Sold in clear clamshell boxes or green baskets, grocery store berries tend to be firmer than farm berries—and sometimes they can be dry or flavorless. To avoid that pitfall, sniff the berries: they should be very fragrant.

Strawberries should be a vibrant shade of red with perky, green leaves. They don’t ripen after they’re picked (unlike these fruits), so don’t bother with berries that are still green or white. Look them over closely and avoid containers with berries that are mushy or moldy.

Do you make any of these common berry mistakes?

How to Pick Strawberries Off the Plant

Start of the strawberry season in Wallaupicture alliance/Getty Images

When picking fruit fresh from the plant, choose strawberries that are fully ripened: all red with no white or green areas. Avoid any berries bearing nibbles from critters.

The best way to pick the strawberry is by holding the stem above the green cap and gently twisting it off the plant. Leaving the caps and leaves intact on the berries will help them last longer once home—if you accidentally tear off the cap, that’s a good excuse to eat it on the spot! Take care not to bruise the strawberries or damage the plants.

Get your freshly-picked strawberries home as soon as possible, so they don’t deteriorate in your warm car.

How to Store Strawberries

At home, strawberries will only stay fresh for about a day at room temperature. For longer storage, put the container of unwashed berries in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Do not wash berries or remove the green tops until you’re ready to use them. (Trust us: We tested several ways to store strawberries to find the best.)

Not planning to eat them soon? Strawberries freeze well. Wash and hull them, then arrange them in a single layer on a small tray. Place them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag and store for 3-6 months.

If you love strawberries, these are the best berry tools to make storing and prepping berries a breeze.

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a Taste of Home Community Cook and a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.