Do Strawberries Ripen After Picking? [Common Misconceptions]

Unripe strawberries do not ripen once picked. Strawberries only ripen while still growing on the strawberry plant. Picking green strawberries can only ever result in lackluster strawberries that will never ripen. Always wait to pick these sweet fruits until they are bright red and have a natural shine. This is how you’ll know you have ripe fruit to harvest. Be sure to look for ripening strawberry fruit in spring through late summer. These months are peak strawberry season.

Do strawberries ripen after picking?

When Should Strawberries Be Picked?

Fresh strawberries are best picked when you have full-looking berries that are bright red in color. Generally, harvesting strawberries will work best between late May and early September. This is the peak season for strawberry picking. Green berries should be left alone until the ripening process has been completed. 

  • Strawberry picking is best done between May and September.
  • Wait until you have full berries that are bright red before engaging in strawberry picking.

Do not pick strawberries that are unripe or have blemishes. If your berries are diseased or blemished, be sure to prune them off and toss out the plant waste. 

What Color are Ripe Strawberries?

Ripe strawberries have a lush red appearance without any noticeable dark spots. This red pop of brightness signals that your berry has reached peak flavor. Unripe strawberries can appear to have a green or white color. This color signals that unripe strawberries will taste tart or sour and aren’t ready for strawberry picking.

  • Most strawberries are red in color once they reach peak ripeness.
  • There are some rare strawberries which may turn other colors, such as white strawberries.

There are special white strawberries that are ripe. However, this is a relatively rare variety of strawberries. White strawberries are a Japanese varietal that tends to be sweeter and softer than most commercial strawberries.

How Do You Ripen Strawberries Quickly?

Unfortunately, the only way to ripen strawberries quickly is to keep your strawberry plant healthy and well-nourished. There is no way to artificially speed up strawberry ripening. Here are the best ways to ensure your plant will grow an abundant batch of strawberries quickly:

  • Plant strawberry plants in sandy, well-draining soil that is mildly acidic (5.5–7 pH).
  • Use this berry fertilizer to ensure the soil has plenty of nutrients. 
  • Keep the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil consistently moist.
  • Strawberry plants grow best in full sun.
  • Prune stray runners (little vines that curl away from the main plant).

If you follow all these tips, you’ll have abundant strawberries during peak season. This will ensure ripe fruit for harvesting as quickly as possible.

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Will Strawberries Ripen in a Paper Bag?

Strawberries will not ripen in a paper bag. The paper bag method is a well-known way to ripen some citrus fruits and mangoes (among others). This trick works for some fruit ripening because of exogenous ethylene (a ripening gas released by some fruit). However, strawberries do not react to ethylene gas unless they are still attached to their plant. 

  • The paper bag ripening trick will not work on strawberries.
  • Fruits need to release ethylene gas to ripen after being picked to ripen in a bag.
  • Strawberries only release ethylene gas while growing on the plant

No matter what amounts of ethylene gas you expose your picked berries to, they will stay unripe and never lose their green color. It is imperative that you hold off on strawberry picking until you have ripe berries.

Can You Leave Strawberries Out to Ripen?

There is no way to ripen strawberries that have been picked. Leaving unripe strawberries out to ripen will just result in them rotting within 4 days. Lots of fruit cannot ripen off the vine/plant they grow on. Strawberries are one such fruit. 

  • Unripe strawberries will rot when left out but won’t ripen.
  • Most fruit will not ripen after being picked.

The only way to get your strawberry fruit ripe is to leave it on the plant until it is ripe. It is only a rare, select few fruits like bananas that can continue to ripen after being picked. You can’t ripen strawberries in a container no matter how long you wait. 

Can You Ripen Picked Strawberries?

You cannot ripen strawberries that have already been picked. The strawberry ripening process can only occur while unripe berries are still attached to the plant. Here are the key things to remember about trying to ripen strawberries after they’ve been picked:

  • Harvesting strawberries should only be done once the fruit is fully ripe.
  • Ripe strawberries are red in color (except for rare breeds like white strawberries).
  • Strawberry season runs from late May to early September.
  • You cannot ripen strawberries in a paper bag or by leaving them out.
  • The only way to ripen strawberries is on the plant.
  • Take good care of your strawberry plant to ensure a bountiful harvest that ripens quickly.

Many articles will try to convince you that there are ways to ripen unripe strawberries. However, these articles are mistaken. The only way to ripen your strawberries is on the vine. Be sure to allow your strawberries to ripen fully before picking. This ensures you harvest delicious fruit from your garden.

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