Strawberry season is extremely short. Even though you can find them year-round, off-season berries are extremely expensive! And they’re not even that good.
So, when the time comes, you have to do everything you possibly can to savor the fresh berries for as long as you can.
Today we’ll look at how to store strawberries in Mason jars. This technique is relatively unknown to most people, but it’s actually a very effective one. All you need to do is place the berries inside a sterile Mason jar and store them sideways! Your berries will now easily last between 2-3 weeks (possibly longer) if kept under the perfect conditions.
In this educational article, we will take a look at the best way to store strawberries in Mason jars, the results of our experiment, and the changes we would make to the method!
Why Do People Store Strawberries In A Mason Jar?
In all honesty, when we first heard of this storage technique for strawberries, we were a little bit confused. Who’s ever heard of such a thing? Storing strawberries in a Mason jar?
But when we tried it ourselves, we must say: we were quite impressed with the results.
Traditionally, strawberries are stored inside a plastic punnet that usually has some ventilation holes inside them.
If at all, the berries are stacked in two layers to prevent them from crushing each other. There is enough oxygen to prevent the berries from sweating excessively or from drying out.
But, the downside to this is that bacteria can easily come and go. That not only puts the strawberries at risk from decomposing very quickly but other fresh produce too.
Nevertheless, this method is pretty set in stone. And there is a reason it is used across the globe. But that doesn’t mean no other storage method works.
So, is the mason jar technique better and why do people use it?
When we initially researched it, many people claim that it makes the berries last much longer. The theory is that you create an almost uninhabitable environment for bacteria to grow as rapidly.
Now, from logic and some experience with food, the only thing we can see you really do is take away some oxygen. You still have bacteria in the jar that comes with the strawberries you add.
So, how effective could this method be?
Do Strawberries Last Longer In Mason Jars?
From our experiments, strawberries definitely retain their freshness for a while longer when stored in a Mason jar. We can’t say that they will always last longer because there are thousands of variables that can cause them to spoil.
Some examples are the freshness when they were stored, the temperature of the fridge, the bacteria that are already on the berries, and so on.
But our Mason jar strawberries lasted for 17 days! That’s slightly longer than 2 weeks. And when we used them, they were only starting to lose some of their color and texture. They were still perfectly fine to eat, which is why we did!
We cannot say for sure, but from our experience and the looks of the berries at that point, they would’ve still been fine for another 3-4 days.
What Happened To The Strawberries Inside The Jar?
The berries that are at the bottom of the jar were worse off than the ones at the top. This is definitely due to the weight of the top berries pressing down on them.
However, they weren’t mushy, soggy, or crushed — just slightly more blemished than the top two-thirds. Their overall consistency was still pretty solid, albeit some areas were slightly softer.
Remember, as strawberries age, the bonds between their fibers break down, which causes them to become softer. That doesn’t mean they are spoiling or rotting — this process has nothing to do with bacteria.
It just happens that as they soften, they release more juices. These juices (which also contain sugar) are what bacteria that are present feed off of, ultimately causing the berries to spoil.
The rest of the berries were also slightly less bright than they were when we stored them initially. We didn’t see any signs of mold growth or rot. There was also no major discoloration on the flesh of the berries.
And finally, the tops and leaves of the berries were definitely drier. That completely makes sense as the jar doesn’t provide them with any oxygen or moisture. Normally, the moisture from the air in the fridge will keep these fresh.
Nevertheless, the leaves aren’t edible anyway. So, it doesn’t matter that they dry out a bit.
Why Did Our Berries Last This Long? Will All Strawberries Last Almost 3 Weeks?
There are a lot of factors to consider that could have ultimately helped our berries last as long as they did. We would say on average the berries will last 2-3 weeks.
We stored our berries in a very specific way for this experiment, and some of these factors cause the berries to last longer.
So, let’s take a look at what we did before looking at the best way to store strawberries inside a Mason jar:
- We stored freshly picked strawberries. Why is this important? Well, these strawberries were much fresher than your average store-bought punnet of berries would be, which is likely why our strawberries in the Mason jar had a shelf life of between 2-3 weeks, while the batch in the punnet also lasted about 9 days.
- Our fridge runs at a constant 37.5ºF (3ºC). We have an industrial fridge that is much more accurate and consistent with controlling the temperature.
- Our fridge wasn’t opened a lot. The more you open a fridge, the more the internal temperature fluctuates — this means the ingredients (and bacteria) are constantly heating and cooling, which could still cause bacteria to grow more rapidly. Not to mention, every time you open the fridge, you introduce new bacteria as well!
- We did not remove the green tops of the strawberries. These tops actually help extend the shelf life of the berries and keep them from drying out. So, you will see that the berries without their tips will spoil first.
How To Store Strawberries In Mason Jars
So, now that you know how long strawberries last inside a Mason jar, let’s take a look at the best way to do it.
You’ve seen the things we’ve done for our test above. However, there are still some improvements you can make to the method. Our in-depth guide covers everything you need to know and more!
Equipment And Ingredients
- Large pot with boiling water
- Mason jar
- Fresh strawberries
1. Sterilize The Mason Jar
To start, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Then, using the tongs, plunge the Mason jar and lid into the boiling water. Leave the bottom of the tongs inside the water as well — they can sit for about 1 minute.
Next, remove the elements from the water and place them on a clean surface — do not touch them with your hands at all. Allow them to dry at room temperature.
This step ensures that bacteria isn’t introduced onto the strawberries from the jars.
2. Prepare The Strawberries
Wash your hands very well with a food-safe, anti-bacterial hand wash. Use a clean paper towel and gently wipe down the strawberries.
Do not remove their tops or break them off.
3. Store The Strawberries
Place the strawberries inside the Mason jar. Do not stuff them inside the jar — they should all have space to easily move around.
Next, place the strawberries inside your fridge, preferably inside the crisper drawer. This drawer won’t freeze up like the back of your fridge will, and it helps keep the strawberries very cold.
Place the Mason jar on its side, not on its bottom. This will add less weight to the bottom strawberries and cause them to stay unblemished for much longer.
- Do not wash the strawberries. Also, avoid wiping them off with a damp towel. This introduces a ton of moisture for bacteria to thrive on — exactly what you don’t want!
- Don’t use a massive Mason jar. The bigger it is, the more weight will squish the bottom strawberries. You still want them to be as fresh as (or close to) the top berries.
- Always choose the freshest berries that you can. Their skin should be a bright red color with no blemishes or rotting spots — obviously, there shouldn’t be any signs of mold. If you buy a punnet with such strawberries, store them separately or throw them away.
- Do not store the berries on top of a paper towel or a sheet of bubble wrap. These are breeding grounds for bacteria.
- Use the berries within 1 week for the best flavor and texture. Although they can last longer, they won’t be as good.