Why Do Strawberries Mold So Fast? [Proper Storage]

It happened again. You bought or picked a fresh batch of juicy strawberries, only for them to end up a fuzzy mold-infested mess a few short days later.

What went wrong? Why do strawberries mold so fast?

Strawberries mold quickly due to being a delicate, sugary, and porous fruit. Once water reaches the strawberries, the ideal environment for mold formation is created. From there, mold runs rampant through the container, causing your strawberries to spoil.

Nobody wants to see a fuzzy fencing along their batch of strawberries.

The good news is that there are many ways to deter mold and prolong the shelf life of your strawberries. 

Why Do Strawberries Mold So Fast?

Three key factors cause strawberries to mold quickly: their delicateness, sugar content, and porous texture.

When the right conditions are met, the spores can begin to grow, creating a moldy mess. 

The fact of the matter is that mold spores are all around us – including the inside of strawberries.

They hunt for a wet and warm environment and are particularly keen on feeding on sugary substances.

Well, strawberries are typically washed before consumption to get rid of things such as dirt and grime that may have accumulated from the ground.

While this renders the strawberries “clean” and “safe” for consumption, it creates a prime mold environment.

Since strawberries are highly delicate and porous, they soak up moisture quickly.

Pair that with the sugar content of the strawberry, and you have the perfect circumstances for mold to form and grow rampantly.

How Long Does it Take for Strawberries to Mold?

How long it takes for strawberries to mold depends mainly on one factor: whether or not they’re washed.

Where they’re stored will also play a role in how long it takes for them to acquire mold.

Unwashed, room temperature3+ Days
Unwashed, fridge7+ Days
Washed, room temperature1-2 days
Washed, fridge3-5 days

How Do You Keep Strawberries From Molding So Fast?

There are many ways to keep strawberries from molding so fast. The most popular option is to soak them in a water and vinegar bath before storing them in the fridge.

However, some people prefer the lemon juice method, while others resort to freezing to fend off mold growth.

Water and Vinegar Bath

The most popular choice to keep strawberries from molding quickly is to place them in a water and vinegar bath.

Grab a large bowl that can accommodate your batch of strawberries. Then, do the following:

  1. Place strawberries inside of the bowl.
  2. Mix 4 cups of water and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  3. Pour the mixture on top of the strawberries.
  4. Let them soak for 3 minutes.
  5. Swish the strawberries around and soak for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Drain the water and vinegar mixture.
  7. Rinse the strawberries until the vinegar scent is no longer present.
  8. Place strawberries on a paper towel to dry them off before storing them in the fridge.

Lemon Juice Spray

The thought of soaking juicy and plump strawberries in white vinegar sends some consumers running to the hills in disgust.

If you’d rather give your strawberries a citrus flair reminiscent of strawberry lemonade, consider spraying them with lemon juice instead.

All you need to do is fill a small spray bottle with lemon juice – and nothing else.

Give the strawberries a generous spritz of lemon juice on all sides. Then, simply place them back in the refrigerator. 

Don’t Wash Until You’re Ready to Eat

The number one “rule” when it comes to keeping strawberries from molding quickly is never to rinse them until you’re ready to eat them. 

Remember – mold loves moisture, and strawberries soak up hydration like a sponge.

To ensure you aren’t accidentally creating a prime environment for mold growth, refrain from washing until you’re ready to consume the strawberries.

You can also opt to only rinse as many strawberries as needed at a time.

Therefore, you have fresh and clean berries to nosh on but won’t cause swift deterioration of the leftovers in the meantime.

Get Rid of Moldy or Mushy Strawberries

After you’ve bought or picked your strawberries; it’s imperative to inspect them thoroughly. 

That said, take a good look at the entire container of strawberries.

If any of them show signs of being spoiled, such as a mushy texture, odd discoloration, or fuzziness, toss them immediately.

Freeze Them

It is far less likely for mold to form in the freezer. It’s simply too cold. That said, some consumers may prefer to freeze their strawberries.

Frozen Strawberies

Frozen strawberries won’t be prone to mold and will have an impressive shelf life of up to a year.

To freeze your strawberries, simply follow these instructions:

  1. Remove the stems of the strawberries using a knife, if necessary.
  2. Rinse strawberries under running cold water.
  3. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place strawberries in a single layer on a baking sheet, so they are not touching.
  5. Transfer into the freezer and allow the berries to freeze (approx. 3 hours).
  6. Place frozen strawberries inside an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
  7. Store in the freezer for up to a year.

It’s that easy!

Proper Storage in the Fridge

Don’t forget the importance of appropriate storage. This is key for fending off mold formation.

Yet, most people leave their strawberries in the provided container.

While this might seem like the ideal spot for your berries, the truth is, it isn’t. Here are a few critical tips for proper storage:

Place Strawberries in an Airtight Container Without The Lid.

You want to provide air circulation to your berries. Sealing with a lid will not allow proper airflow, which can provoke mold onset.

Line The Container With a Paper Towel.

If there is one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: moisture = mold. Since strawberries soak up moisture like a sponge, add a paper towel to the container to help absorb some of the excess hydration.

Store in The Fridge.

The best place for your strawberries is in the refrigerator, preferably in the crisper at 32F. Don’t place it in the door as temperatures fluctuate too regularly, which can traumatize your berries.

Make Sure Strawberries are Dry Before Storing.

Again, it’s all about getting rid of mold-causing moisture.

Is it OK to Eat Strawberries With Mold?

It is not OK to eat strawberries with mold. This is due to several reasons. It won’t taste that great, and the appearance and texture are unappetizing.

Moldy Strawberries

That alone is enough to cause nausea, stomachaches, and vomiting.

On a more serious note, eating moldy foods can render you quite ill – especially if you are allergic to the mold or have consumed mycotoxins.

These can cause a slew of illnesses, especially at the respiratory level, which will require medical treatment.

Should I Throw Away All Strawberries if One is Moldy?

Surprisingly enough, the USDA claims that you do not need to throw away all strawberries if one or a few are moldy. 

Begin by throwing away the noticeable moldy strawberries and any strawberries touching them.

From there, you can inspect the remaining strawberries. If they show any signs of spoilage or have slight fuzziness, you will need to throw them away.

Signs of Spoiled Strawberries

It’s true that strawberries begin molding quickly. But they can also deteriorate fast, in general.

Some of the tried-and-true signs of rotten strawberries include mold, mushiness, discoloration, and an odd odor.

Mold

The most significant indicator of rotten strawberries is mold. Mold on strawberries is typically white, although it can be gray as well.

Regardless of the type and color, it’s imperative to discard the moldy strawberries and any strawberries touching them.

Mushiness

Strawberries are typically plump and firm. If you notice your berries have a mushiness or are bruised or soft in certain areas, it means they are past their prime.

It’s best to discard these berries as they won’t taste very good anyway.

Discoloration

There is nothing quite like a plump, bright red strawberry. But if your berries are starting to lose their color, appearing a faint red, yellow, or even brown shade, it’s time to get rid of them.

At this point, they will likely take on an overly mushy or rock-hard texture that is unpleasant, too.

Odd Smell

Strawberries don’t have an exotic or vibrant smell, but they do smell fresh and delicious.

Take a sniff of your strawberries. If it seems off in any way, it may be a sign that they’ve gone bad. Time for a fresh container!

Final Words

Strawberries are delicate, porous, and full of sugars, creating the ideal environment for mold growth – especially once they’ve come in contact with water.

The best way to fend off moldy strawberries is to perform a water and vinegar soak, spray them with lemon juice, and store them properly.

You should also avoid rinsing until you’re ready to consume.

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