Yes and no, it depends on how long you are planning to keep them for. If you are planning on eating them by hand and finishing them in a day or two, you might not need to refrigerate them. But if you are thinking about relatively long-term, then refrigeration might be your best bet. There are several different methods of refrigerating strawberries, each with its own complexity and results.
How Refrigeration Helps Strawberries (Or Any Other Fruit Or Vegetable)
Refrigeration slows down the natural processes that cause ripening and deterioration in food. The same chemical mechanisms that allow plants to develop and mature also lead them to decay in fruits and vegetables. Refrigeration, in effect, aids in the preservation of plant tissue. This aging process is greatly slowed by keeping these items at moderate temperatures.
Microorganisms that damage food, such as bacteria, mold, and yeast, cannot thrive in cold temperatures. Any microbe that might harm fruits or vegetables needs food, a suitable moisture level, and a suitable temperature to flourish.
Because eliminating a food supply for these bacteria is impossible, additional elements that aid their growth must be removed.
Food is refrigerated to keep germs, yeasts, and molds away from the ideal temperature for growth. Many freezers have moisture-control features that assist prevent food degradation, removing two of the three favorable conditions for microbe development.
Why Should You Refrigerate Strawberries?
You can safely store the fresh fruits at room temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Whole strawberries will generally keep for one or two days at the typical room temperature.
Still, you should always try to refrigerate your strawberries the moment you take them home from the store.
And that’s because the strawberries are highly perishable, and they stop ripening once they are picked — So if you let them be at room temperature, it will only speed up their decay. If they are properly stored, strawberries will usually keep for about 3 to 7 days in the fridge. Strawberries also don’t get sweeter after they’ve been harvested. They deepen in color and soften with time, but they don’t mature as quickly as other fruits. One way to ensure longevity is to choose dark red fruit, don’t wash it and spread it out on paper towels, ideally, in a spaced-out single layer. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Refrigerating Strawberries (Based On How Long You Want Them To Last)
Fresh strawberries may be put in the refrigerator right away, but they’ll keep for a number of days on the counter. Remove berries with bruises, blemishes, and other signs of decay, and lay the remainder in a colander or open-weave basket to enable air to circulate freely. The stems should be maintained until the fruit is ready to eat to preserve the mold-prone, moist flesh within the berry from exposure. While washing strawberries as soon as you bring them home is tempting, resist the impulse. Strawberries will absorb the water and become more susceptible to deterioration. In this situation, the berries will only survive a few days without refrigeration, even if handled carefully.
When you are planning to keep strawberries (through refrigeration) for about a week, you need to understand one of their worst enemies, i.e., moister. The fresh strawberry is harmed by moisture. Although it may be tempting to keep strawberries in airtight containers, strawberries will decay more rapidly if moisture is trapped within. Even the plastic containers that many grocery shop strawberries come in are not ideal for refrigerator storage. Instead, place strawberries in an open container or a large pan lined with paper towels to help wick moisture away from the delicate berries. Colanders are ideal for storing strawberries because they enable air to circulate freely. Unlike whole berries, strawberries should be kept in an airtight container once sliced or hulled to prevent mold and bacterial growth on the exposed flesh, which will dramatically reduce shelf life.
Dry-freezing strawberries will keep most of their flavor and texture for up to six months, and they can be kept for up to a year (with some loss of quality). Strawberries that have been canned or frozen in syrup retain some taste but are mushy and should be used in baking or mixed into yogurt or porridge. Then there’s strawberry jam, of course.
Freezing gets the closest to preserving the fresh-picked strawberry’s characteristics. Other methods of long-term storage have their own charm, but none of them can match the bright flavor and crisp texture of freshly picked strawberries.
It’s a good idea to refrigerate strawberries, even if you wish to keep them for a relatively limited time, like one or two days. It will help prevent decay and decomposition and will preserve the flavor relatively close to the original. And refrigeration alone might not be enough to preserve the berries. You will have to look into different methods of preserving and keeping the strawberries.