How to Ripen Strawberries From the Grocery Store? Explained

Strawberries, a fruit so delicious that its very name is enough to make your mouth water! But what if you buy a pack of strawberries that turns out to be unripe? Unripe strawberries not only taste bad, but they are harmful to your health.

Unfortunately, strawberries stop ripening after they have been picked from the plant. So, in this article, I will discuss the traits of a ripe strawberry and how to utilize the unripe ones to get your money’s worth. Let’s begin!

Can You Ripen Strawberries At Home?

There are two types of fruits when it comes to ripening, which is climacteric and non-climacteric.

Climacteric plants continue to ripen after being cut off due to the production of ethylene gas. For example, a banana is picked when unripe because it can ripen on the counter. This is because bananas store starch, which they can convert into sugar.

Non-climacteric plants should be picked when fully ripe because they will not grow once cut off, and it is only a matter of days before the rotting process starts.

Unlike bananas, ripening strawberries is impossible after they have been cut off from the main plant. However, it will change in color, giving the illusion that it is ripening, but there will be no difference in its taste.

Pro Tip – Strawberry is usually available in all seasons, but May and June are the peak seasons, and that is when you should buy them. If you buy off-season strawberries, they will most likely be unripe and not taste as sweet.

You can also pick strawberries on farms, but be careful not to pick green ones!

Don’t worry if you have bought under-ripe strawberries because I have a trick by which you can activate their cells and trigger the metabolic process.

This might make the tart strawberries taste sweeter, but they will never be able to attain the flavor of a fully ripe strawberry.

  1. Take the strawberries and rinse them under running water.
  2. Transfer them to a baking sheet. Add some water and sugar to it.
  3. Place it in a storage cabinet.

The sugar will extract the juices from the strawberry and make it taste better. You should rinse them again because bacteria and mold will grow quickly if the water remains stagnant, causing the berries to rot.

How to Tell When A Strawberry Has Ripened?

Homegrown strawberries taste like a million bucks, and store-bought ones will never compare. So, if you have a strawberry patch at home, you should let them fully mature before picking them out.

But are the unharvested strawberries ripe? These are the telltale signs that the strawberries have undergone the ripening process and are ready to be harvested: [1]

  1. In its initial stages, a strawberry is green, then turns to white, and then finally transitions into a bright red color with dark spots and green leaves on top, indicating maturity.
  2. Do not pick berries that look visibly diseased or have blemishes. You need to prune such strawberries and discard the waste.
  3. In very rare cases, ripe strawberries can be white as well. They are commonly grown in Japan and are sweeter than red strawberries.
  4. Ripe strawberries will be soft to the touch. Hard berries suggest they are not ripe, and mushy berries mean the strawberries have gone wrong.

What are the Cons of Consuming Unripe Strawberries?

Strawberries are a very nutrient-rich fruit. Some would say this is their main selling point.

In addition to being delicious, they are rich in vitamins and fiber. They boost metabolism, help with weight loss, decrease bad cholesterol, and do much more for the body!

But, if the strawberries are unripe, they will not be nearly as good in taste or retain any nutritional goodness. The following are the reasons why you should not consume unripe strawberries:

  1. Unless strawberries have fully matured, they will not contain any antioxidants and will be lacking in some essential vitamins.
  2. Unripe strawberries will have high acid and solanine content, which can poison the body. It can cause heartburn, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems.

What are Some Ways to Utilize Unripe Strawberries?

A few simple modifications can make even unripe strawberries taste good. It is not good to waste food, so you should always try to find ways to save and utilize it.

I have a bunch of recipes that you can make with unripe strawberries, which will diminish their sourness and make them taste sweet:

1. Make Strawberry Sauce

Dice 1–2 cups of green strawberries into small chunks and toss them in a pan.

Add 4-5 tbsp of powdered sugar and cook them on a medium-low flame. As the sugar caramelizes, it will turn the strawberries mushy.

The sauce will be ready in 8–10 minutes! Add this strawberry syrup to ice cream, pancakes, waffles, cheesecakes, etc. It will taste better when it is slightly warm.

2. Make A Smoothie Bowl

The best way to mask the taste of unripe strawberries is by including other ingredients with a strong flavor. A smoothie or a smoothie bowl is a perfect way to do that.

You can mix as many ingredients as you want. I recommend adding a lot of berries, yogurt, nuts, and frozen strawberries for the most basic smoothie. You can always tweak the recipe by adding more fruits or nuts and topping it off with granola.

Pro tip– Mango and kiwi have an overpowering flavor and will be the best to disguise the taste of unripe strawberries.

3. Pickled Green Strawberries

Fill a clean jar with green berries and add the spices of your choice to them to add layers of flavor. You can use peppercorns, mustard seeds, caraway seeds, bay leaves, cumin seeds, etc.

Then, in a saucepan, heat white vinegar, salt, honey, and water in a saucepan. Stir and cook over a medium flame until everything is dissolved. Once the mixture has cooled down, pour it into the jar.

Shake it well and refrigerate it for 12 hours. You can serve these pickled green strawberries with crackers and cheese.

How to Keep Strawberries Fresh for Longer?

Here are some tips on how to store strawberries to keep them fresh for as long as possible:

  1. Store strawberries in an airtight container in a dry place. They will last for a maximum of 7 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Line the container with a paper towel to absorb moisture from the berries and prevent mold.
  3. Do not wash the strawberries until you are ready to eat them. If you expose them to moisture for a long time before storing them, they will turn moldy and unfit for consumption.
  4. Try to avoid storing strawberries on top of each other. If one has mold, it will spread to all the others. You can place a paper towel on top of the first layer to minimize contact.
  5. The high acid content in lemon juice will keep the strawberries fresh for longer. So, lightly brush them with lemon juice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here, I have answered some of the most commonly asked questions about unripe strawberries and how to salvage them. Take a look:

1. How Do You Soften Hard Strawberries?

You can quickly macerate or soften hard strawberries by soaking them in a liquid. You can immerse them in sweeteners such as sugar syrup, honey, or maple syrup. Or you can soak them in balsamic vinegar, fresh juice, or herbal liqueurs.

2. Will Strawberries Ripen In A Brown Paper Bag?

No, strawberries do not ripen in a paper bag. This trick only works with climacteric plants, which are ripened by trapping their ethylene gases. Strawberries are insensitive to ethylene after being plucked off and only produce it when connected to a host plant.

Final Word

In conclusion, you cannot ripen store-bought strawberries with a visibly white top or tips. But you can spread them on a dish and leave them for a few days. This will make them plumper and redder.