How to Pick Strawberries at the Store That Are *Actually* Juicy and Flavorful (and Don’t Just Look Like It)

how to pick strawberries: Crates of strawberries at the store
Kristin Lee/Getty Images

If you’re like us, summertime at the grocery store is like being a kid in a candy store: The array of seasonal fruits (and vegetables) is so plentiful, we don’t know where to start. So, imagine our dismay when we’ve sidled up to the strawberry display, carefully selected the prettiest pint and taken it home to eat right at the counter…only to be greeted by insipid berries that taste more like the container they came in than anything else. If you, too, have been done dirty by the conventional fruit display, don’t despair. You can pick good produce without hightailing it to the farmers market. The trick? Use your nose.

How to Pick Strawberries at the Store? Smell Them

While you probably shop with your eyes first (nothing wrong with that), we’ve found that the most foolproof way to select a ripe strawberry without tasting it is to give the container a good sniff. You might get a few weird looks from strangers, but you’ll be the one laughing when you taste those berries.

Ripe strawberries have a sweet, fragrant aroma, almost like a fancy strawberry candle or even cotton candy. They should smell pleasantly fruity, and if they’re really good, you shouldn’t even have to get too close to catch a whiff. If they smell like nothing or, worse, smell sour, they either aren’t ripe enough or are past their prime.

Why It Works

Strawberries get darker in color after picking, but they don’t get any sweeter. So visual cues aren’t enough. Just like other summery delights (hello, peaches and apricots) sweet, juicy berries will smell the way you imagine a picture-perfect strawberry to smell. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to start by looking for the reddest, plumpest berries to begin with—it may go without saying, but avoid anything that looks mushy, bruised or moldy, and you’re already halfway there.

How to Store Strawberries at Home

Once you’ve landed on the best berries, you’ll want to store them correctly to prolong their shelf life as much as possible. Here’s how:

  • Examine the batch for bad guys. If you find an errant moldy berry, toss it so it doesn’t sour the remaining fruit.
  • Wash the strawberries right before using them. Instead of washing the berries in advance, rinse them in cool water only when you want to eat or use them. This prevents them from rotting prematurely.
  • Store them in a single layer. Air circulation will prevent moisture and molding, so lay the strawberries on paper towels in a single layer before stashing them in the fridge.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...