Strawberries are delicious, but if you’ve ever cut one open and discovered that the fruit has started to turn brown inside, you might be wondering whether it is still safe to eat. Brown fruit is often starting to go off, so it’s important to check before you eat it.
On the whole, a little bit of brown inside a strawberry is not something that you need to worry about, although you may wish to remove that part from the strawberry if it is mushy or slimy. Inspect the rest of the fruit to check for mold or other signs of decay before you opt to eat it.
In this article, we’ll look at how to tell if strawberries have gone past the safe point to eat, and what you should do to keep your strawberries fresh.
What Are The Key Signs Of Decay In Strawberries?
There are lots of things that can show your strawberries are going past their best, including:
- Very dark red flesh
- Browning, blackening, or mushiness on the flesh
- Browning inside the strawberry
- Any flecks of mold, usually white, appearing on the surface of the fruit
- A sharp, sour, or alcoholic scent
- Strawberries that feel very wet or slimy
If you see any of these signs, you should be cautious about eating the strawberries, as there is a high chance that they are no longer okay to eat. While a little brown flesh is sometimes safe to consume, if you can see mold on the strawberries, you should not eat them.
Mold on strawberries is unlikely to be very harmful if you eat a small amount of it, but if you eat a lot, it may cause stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is best to avoid mold, especially if there is any risk that mold spores will set off allergies for you.
What Causes Strawberries To Turn Brown Inside?
If your strawberries have turned brown inside, there are a few potential explanations. One of the most likely ones is that the fruit got bumped during transit or while you were carrying it back to your home. Being bruised can break down the cell walls, causing different compounds to mix and react with the oxygen.
This often leads to browning, as well as mushiness, sliminess, and quick decay. If you spot a damaged strawberry, it is, therefore, best to eat it promptly, assuming it is still good to eat. If it isn’t, remove it from the packet so that the decay doesn’t spread to the other strawberries and make them go off too.
Strawberries may sometimes even go bad on the plant, before they have been picked. There are a few different fungal diseases that can attack strawberries, and they often end up wet because they grow low to the ground. Water splashes from the watering can and rain may both cause the strawberries to rot more quickly, and this could cause browning inside.
If the browning inside is small and localized, it is probably due to the fruit getting bruised. If it’s more widespread, it may be due to a fungal infection or insect damage. It’s best not to eat strawberries that have been badly damaged, because – as soft fruits – they will decay pretty quickly and start to develop mold spores.
Can You Eat Soft Strawberries?
Fresh strawberries should be crisp and firm, so if you’ve got a soft strawberry that hasn’t yet developed any brown spots, you may be wondering whether this is still okay to eat. The answer is that it depends a bit, but it may be!
Strawberries tend to fill with air when they are at their peak ripeness, and this air makes them very firm. However, it doesn’t last long before the cell walls start to break down, which causes overripe strawberries to deflate and turn soft and soggy fast.
For a short period, these should still be fine to eat, because bacteria will not yet have had time to start attacking the tissues. However, you will find that strawberries that have turned soft start developing mold surprisingly quickly, and then they are no longer safe to eat.
Whenever you inspect a punnet of strawberries, make sure you remove any that are looking deflated and dark red. These are on the point of turning bad, and while they can be washed and eaten at this stage, if you leave them for longer, they will go off.
How Do You Store Strawberries?
It’s important not to bang or jostle your strawberries when you are transporting them, because this is one of the major causes of bruising. If you take your own container to the store or farm, consider putting some padding in the bottom to minimize bruising. Don’t wash strawberries when you get them home, but put them straight in the fridge and wash them when you are ready to use them.
If possible, you should line the container that you are going to put the strawberries in with paper towels, as this will help to keep the fruit dry. Wetness breeds mold, so you want to make sure they are not sitting in water. Change the paper towels when necessary to remove moisture from the container.
Avoid stacking strawberries on top of each other, as being at the bottom of the heap could cause bruising and internal browning. A single layer of strawberries will ventilate better and will be less likely to turn brown. Spreading them out also means that mold cannot be transferred as quickly from one fruit to another if it does start, and makes it easier to spot the mold when it forms.
Seal the container that the strawberries are in if possible, and they should keep for up to 7 days. Check on them regularly and remove any that have gone moldy.
A bit of brown inside a strawberry isn’t usually anything to worry about, but if the strawberry is also squishy, slimy, or moldy, it is not good to eat. You should also pay attention to the smell and flavor of strawberries, and discard any that taste alcoholic or sour.