How To Ripen Strawberries



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How To Ripen Strawberries

Ripe fruits and vegetables taste amazing. They turn from hard and green to soft, sweet, and vibrant colored treats. 

In the case of strawberries, they also give off a pleasant, juicy aroma, while unripe ones keep their fibrous, hard consistency.  

If you’ve ever picked strawberries from a tree to find they were harvested too soon, this post is for you! 

Some ways to help strawberries ripen vary depending on whether the berries are or aren’t on the plant. 

We’ll cover these methods in this post, going over some of the things you can do to help your strawberries ripen faster. 

Signs Strawberries Are Ripe

Before we get into the ripening methods, it’s important to understand the signs of ripe strawberries. 

As is the case with a lot of fruit, strawberries change color when they turn ripe. The initial green hue becomes white and slowly changes to a vivid red shade.

They also have bold green leaves that contrast against the red. 

The ripe berries also give off a nice fragrance, but once they start to turn mushy and smell off, the strawberries are too old and won’t be safe to enjoy.

Ripe strawberries are also larger than unripe berries, though different kinds of strawberries are available in various sizes. 

You can check to see if your strawberries are ripe by giving them a light squeeze.

They should have some give to them when pressed, but if they are too hard or disintegrate completely, you should look elsewhere. 

Signs Strawberries Have Spoiled

By the same token, knowing the signs of spoiled strawberries is important to avoid any issues later.

These include:


Mold begins with white dots on the fruit; then, they start to turn green and gray in other areas. Moldy strawberries may also take on a strange texture and smell. 


Fresh strawberries will look bright red with vivid green foliage. If they turn brown, dark, or white, this indicates that they have spoiled.

Strange Flavor

Fresh strawberries have a sweet, juicy taste to them. If they have spoiled, they will start to taste bitter or sour.  

Things To Help Strawberries Ripen Quicker

If your strawberries are still on their plants but aren’t turning ripe enough, here are some things you can do to speed up the process.

Fertilize Soil And Plants

Fertilizing strawberries is a wonderful way to make the fruit ripen. The berries thrive in rich compost and sandy soil. A popular fertilizer we have used is Espoma Organic Berry-Tone 4-3-4 Natural & Organic Fertilizer.

It’s best to mix older compost with organic manure, such as pelleted chicken manure, then use the blend to feed the plants.

*For our detailed and tested organic fertilizer recommendations, please see the article Best Organic Fertilizers for Strawberries: Boost Your Crop Yield Naturally.

Another tip is to make raised beds like the inexpensive and popular Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Bed. These drain the soil and can be easily filled with compost throughout the year.

As the plants are growing, use continuous-release plant food to improve the harvest yield.

Strawberries also do better if the soil is slightly acidic, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.8. You can make the soil more acidic by adding coffee grounds or chopped citrus fruit peels to the soil.

How To Ripen Strawberries

Water Frequently

Like all plants, strawberries need a good amount of water, especially when they are trying to produce fruit. A well-watered strawberry plant’s fruit will taste better than a dehydrated one. 

Watering also improves the plant’s yield, leading to a better harvest in summer. Dehydrated soil can weaken the plant, so it grows slowly and produces less fruit.

It’s best to water the strawberry plants in the late evening and early morning. This prevents sunlight from shining through water droplets and burning holes in your plants.

Give Them Sunlight

Strawberries do better when they have enough sunlight. Sunlight is a very important factor when it comes to ripening fruit. Fruit ripens faster when it receives eight hours of sunlight each day.

If you live in a cloudier location or haven’t seen the sun in a while, you can use a grow lamp to help your strawberries grow. This is also ideal when growing berries out of season, during winter.

Ripening Picked Strawberries

Strawberries only ripen on their plants, so they won’t be able to continue ripening once they are harvested.

The best way to help strawberries ripen quicker is to leave them on their original plant for longer. 

Despite this, there are things you can do to make picked strawberries turn soft and tasty.

Keep Ripe Fruits Nearby

A trick is to keep ethylene-producing fruits, like apples and bananas, next to spread-out strawberries. These emit ethylene gas after ripening, which triggers other fruits close by to begin ripening.

One method of securing the ethylene gas is to keep strawberries in a paper bag with the apples or bananas. When the bag is closed, the gas is trapped inside, helping the berries ripen quicker.

If you perform this method, keep checking on the berries each day, as they can quickly spoil if left unchecked. 

Some of the strawberries may decay quicker than anticipated. These can impair other berries that are close by, so if you notice any spoiled fruit, remove them from the bag as soon as possible.

Let The Strawberries Breathe

If your strawberries still have white bits on the berries, this method can help them turn red. This is also a nice tip to help strawberries from the store taste better at home.

The method involves taking the unripe berries out of their container and placing them on a neutral surface, like a plate or paper towel.

Leave room between each separate berry, then let them breathe for two days.

When the time is up, the unripe areas on the berries will have changed to red. They should also taste sweeter in comparison. 

Final Thoughts

The best way of letting strawberries ripen is by leaving them on their plant for longer.

Keeping up with good gardening practices, like watering, sunlight, and soil quality, can help ensure your berries taste amazing.

If you have already picked unripe strawberries from their plant, they won’t ripen anymore. Still, you can try the ripe fruit trick and the ‘letting them breathe’ method to improve their flavor.

We hope you enjoyed learning how to ripen strawberries!

Further Recommendations:

Video: How to Ripen Strawberries

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