Look for strawberries that are:
- Ripe with a sweet, fragrant strawberry smell
- Firm, dry, unbruised, and bright red all over
- Free of visible mold and the smell of mold, rot, or fermentation
- Medium size or smaller with evenly distributed seeds
- In an unstained, shallow container
Strawberries, like most berries, do not ripen further after they are picked and are at their best when they are in season.
Select medium size or smaller berries if possible, because large berries may be hollow or contain water, which can affect the taste.
Avoid strawberries with dull skins because that indicates they may not be fresh. When buying strawberries, turn the box over and check the bottom for crushed or under-ripe berries.
Allow one-half to one cup of strawberries per person served. One pint contains approximately two cups of sliced strawberries.
As long as they are ripe and are free of any sign of mold or spoilage, strawberries do not need to perfectly meet all the criteria above to be edible or usable in a recipe. The closer they are to meeting these guidelines, however, the higher their quality should be.
When You Get Your Strawberries Home
Use fresh strawberries within three or four days of purchase, or freeze them for future consumption.
Store strawberries unwashed and covered loosely in your refrigerator for three or four days. Handle them gently and pile them no more than five inches high because they crush easily. Rinse with cold water just before serving; do not soak them for any length of time as water can affect their flavor.
To freeze, gently wash berries and pat dry. Place in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Transfer frozen berries to an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag from which all air has been removed and return them to the freezer for up to six months.