University of California

Ask the Produce Docs (Commodity)

Can you give some guidelines about refrigeration, care & handling of strawberries?

  • Strawberry

I need some quick tips on refrigeration, care & handling etc. In particular, can you provide some guidelines for the following statement:  if strawberries are left out of refrigeration for X hours, they will deteriorate at a rate of x? (J.G.)


The key to answering this question is understanding that as temperatures rise so does the produce metabolic activity (including aging reactions) and this metabolic activity can be quantified by measuring a produce items’ respiration rate (i.e. the rate of carbon dioxide production by a commodity). A helpful resource is our Produce Facts which lists the respiration rate of produce items at various temperatures: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality of Strawberry.

From the Strawberry Produce Fact:

0°C (32°F)
10°C (50°F)
20°C (68°F)
ml CO2/kg·hr
6 - 10
5 - 50
50 - 100

From this table you can see that if you store berries at room temperature (68°F) they have a respiration that is 10 times greater (10 vs 100) than if you stored them at 32°F.  That means that strawberries are deteriorating (at 68°F) at rate 10 times faster than if they were held at 32°F.

Unfortunately your question as posed can’t be answered. The best equivalent statement I can propose would state that "Strawberries held at room temperature deteriorate at a rate 10X faster than if held in ideal conditions at 32°F).  Also, decay incidence and severity is 10 times as fast at 68°F as 32°F.

The shelf-life clock starts ticking the second a strawberry is plucked from the mother plant. How long, in terms of total time, a strawberry has for acceptable shelf-life is dependent on many factors (fruit maturity, variety, growing conditions, etc.). How fast the shelf-life clock clicks down to zero is influenced by the storage temperature. The warmer the storage temperature the faster the shelf-life clock clicks down to zero.

In case of strawberries that rate is 10X times faster at room temperature compared to 32°F.
- Jim Gorny

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