Mold on Strawberries -Signs, Causes & Are they Safe to Eat?

Do your strawberries look a bit odd, with some grey fur on them?

Perhaps you’d forgotten that you bought some strawberries and are now uncertain if they’re still good to eat?

Don’t chance your luck just yet; read on to learn what to do.

In this guide, you’ll discover:

  • How to store your strawberries so they’ll stay fresh longer
  • What causes moldy strawberries in the first place
  • When to know they’re still OK to and when not

Fresh strawberries are delicious, a summer favourite for many of us, yet they’re one of the more delicate fruits to store.

As such, it can be a challenge to find a way to keep them intact and mold-free for some time, so when you do get around to eating them, they’re as enjoyable as they can be.

How To Identify Mold On Strawberries

Unfortunately, when it comes to mold infiltration, your punnet of fresh, inviting strawberries, if it looks like mold, it probably is.

To tell for sure, you’ll need to open up the container they’re being stored in.

Don’t sniff the suspicious substance; if it is mold, the spores can enter your nose and airways, triggering allergy style symptoms.

Instead, take the offending items out and inspect them.

Mold loves overripe strawberries, which have become damaged or squished.

How to tell if it is mold growing on your strawberries?

If some of your strawberries in question appear to have a fluffy, fuzzy grey/ white growth over them, it is likely to be mold.

This can also be present in smaller areas or spots. When caught early, it will spread quickly, so get rid of any poisonous berries or cut the bad sections off and eat immediately.

The most common type of mold on strawberries is Botrytis Cinerea.

Touch it; it will feel soft and delicate, easily imprinted by your touch and can be removed easily using your fingers.

Mold that has progressed can take over a large area and seemingly stick the strawberries together; whilst it appears to have engulfed the whole punnet, it may be the case that it will wash off and reveal useable fruit underneath.

What Causes Mold On Strawberries?

As with any fresh fruit or vegetable, strawberries are prone to going moldy, it’s inevitable, and the power of nature cannot be overturned.

Mold is a process involved in the breakdown and degradation of food products.

Since strawberries are a soft fruit, they are more susceptible to damage in transit or being handled; when they’re bruised, bashed about, or the skin breaks open, it’s an invitation for mold spores to set to work.

In soft-skinned fruits, mold can penetrate quickly and more effortlessly than fruits that have tough skin.

The mold spores can already be contained within the fruit when you purchase it from the store, as the microorganism lays in wait for its chance to flourish and make itself known.

As with all mold growth, it requires the three key elements:

  • Moisture 
  • Ambient temperature 
  • Food source 

Since they’re generally kept in the fridge, where the light is off for 99% of the time, the mold spores can have a party on the surface of your fruit, which is not usually noticed until you go to eat them.

​How Long Does It Take For Strawberries To Get Moldy?

If you’ve purchased fresh strawberries and stored them in the fridge upon returning home, then go to eat them a day or two later, only to find that disappointingly there is mold on them, you’re not alone.

Whilst you may think the rapid growth of mold is almost supernatural, the truth is that strawberries are known to contain mold spores, which at the point of purchase may not be evident.

However, take them home, and you can see mold has developed in as little as 24-30 hours in some cases.

Alternatively, you may find that it takes several days for the colony to set up shop.

The variable factors here will be how the strawberries are stored, the number of mold spores that were present to begin with, and how damaged the soft skin was.

If you have not refrigerated them, they will develop more rapidly, so it’s a good idea to pop them straight into the fridge; if you decide to wash them first using our cleaning method, aim to get them into the chiller once dried.

Bruised or damaged strawberries must be dealt with ASAP not to jeopardise the rest of the punnet; these can be used to make preserves, jams, or cook.

Is It Ok To Eat Strawberries When They Have Mold?

Whilst you can eat strawberries that have mold on them, we advise against eating them whole like that; however, you can cut off the affected areas and make use of the excellent bit left.

To make the most of your berries, so they’re not a total waste, here’s what we’d do:

Firstly we suggest getting rid of any strawberries that are past saving.

With the rest of your punnet, a thorough wash under clean fresh water will help you identify the number of usable berries left.

Use your judgement and be mindful of food waste.

Anything that looks too soft, discoloured and odd is probably not good.

Larger berries with only a small area can be cut to remove the wrong section.

Clean the knife between cuts if it comes into contact with the mold; otherwise, you risk spreading it onto the rest.

The typical mold on your berries isn’t considered dangerous for humans, so if you do consume any, you should be OK.

People who need to be more considerate with this may have a weakened immune system, such as the elderly, very young, recovering from illness, or having underlying health complaints.

If this is you, take extra precautions to enjoy this delectable summer fruit.

Individuals with a healthy functioning immune system may at worst get some gastrointestinal distress from eating strawberries that have mold on them; for the more fragile of eaters, this could pose a more severe issue that sees them being hospitalised.

Should there ever be any doubt or uncertainty, regardless of how wasteful it may be, throw the moldy berries away and get some fresh ones!

How To Prevent Your Strawberries From Getting Moldy

To give your strawberries the best chance to stay fresh longer & have less chance of becoming moldy, we recommend following our guide to storing them.

When you arrive home from the store, the first thing to do is wash the strawberries.

The key here is to use a white vinegar solution to bathe them in as it helps to kill mold spores but won’t damage your delicate berries.

To create this cleansing mixture, you’ll need white vinegar and fresh cold water mixed up in a large bowl at a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar.

Once this has been made up, you should gently add the strawberries into the bath, let them sit for a minute or two before swishing them about and agitating the water.

When you’re convinced, they’ve been cleansed enough, remove them from the bowl and add them to a colander or sieve.

You need to run this under fresh water to remove the traces of vinegar.

Set aside and allow the excess moisture to drip off.

Next, you’ll need to carefully decant the berries onto a clean kitchen roll which assists in helping them to dry.

At this stage, it can be helpful to gently move them around on the kitchen roll to help dry all surface areas.

When you are convinced they’re dry enough, the berries must be added to a container destined for the fridge.

If you plan to reuse the container or punnet they came in; we would advise cleaning that thoroughly and drying it before adding some fresh kitchen roll to the bottom before the strawberries get put in.

Otherwise, a sufficiently sized plastic container will do the trick, again add in some kitchen roll.

If opting for this choice, either stor with no lid or not fully on and sealed closed.

Airflow across the strawberries will assist with keeping them fresher for longer.

Best Ways For Storing Your Strawberries, So They Don’t Spoil

We recommend storing your strawberries in the following ways for optimum freshness and taste retention:

1.Original packaging 

If you decide to use the plastic container or punnet that the strawberries originally came in, it is advisable to change the absorbent layer on the bottom.

A simple piece of folded kitchen roll should do the trick.

This would be a minimum. Ideally, it is a good habit to wash and dry the container before storing it in the fridge.

2.New Containers

Otherwise, a sufficiently sized plastic container will do the trick, again add in some kitchen roll.

If opting for this choice, either store with no lid or not fully on and sealed; by leaving it ajar, you’ll allow air to circulate.

Airflow across the strawberries will assist with keeping them fresher for longer.

3.General storage considerations for your fruit 

Try not to stack lots of boxes or other heavy fridge items on top of the container, especially true if they’re to remain in the traditional rather flimsy lightweight plastic containers.

Excess weight can squash the tub and cause your berries to become damaged and more likely to grow a grey fuzz.


Ensure that the storage box has airflow; try not enclose it with other items. Especially problematic vegetables are prone to high moisture content, such as lettuce.


Check the tubs regularly to see if any excess moisture has accumulated. Should this be the case, a quick wipe and fresh kitchen roll will assist you in keeping the fruit fresh for longer and mold at bay!

Why Do My Strawberries Get Moldy Whilst Still Growing?

As mentioned in the earlier section, strawberries are notorious for having issues with Botrytis Cinerea as they grow.

If you find that mold keeps getting hold of some of your precious crops, this is likely to be the offender.

But why?

Believe it or not, some people would say the presence of this microorganism is a good thing; that being said, they are grape growers who advocate this to assist with the sweeter wines.

I’m guessing you are not one of them as you’ve ended up here!

So the question is, how can you prevent the grey mold in the first place?

Unfortunately, it is not a simple process, as there are many strains of this type of mold.

It likes to remain hidden, often not showing its hand until the fruit is ripe, where it can then quickly engulf a large portion of your berries in a relatively short time frame.

Tackling any visible signs by cutting or removing the affected areas should always be your first port of call.

It would help if you exercised care and attention; disturbing the moldy areas can cause the spores to become airborne and spread to other sites.

Placing a plastic carrier bag over the area whilst cutting can help mitigate this problem as any spores can then be contained within the bag instead of floating free.

1.Keeping the surrounding soil clear and free of debris

This will ensure that you’re not leaving an open invite there for mold to come and rear its ugly, fuzzy head.

2.Remove weeds

Or other plants attempting to grow near your crops, their presence can create unnecessary moisture to the area, reduce airflow and increase the likelihood of a mold infestation.

It can be quite time consuming, but regular weeding will nip it in the bud before they have a chance to become a real issue.

3.Keep plants sufficiently spread out

It helps with getting consistent airflow around your crop.

4.Position your plants in direct sunlight

This will keep moisture levels down and provide your strawberries with one of their favourite food sources. Mold hates direct sunlight, so it is less likely to be an issue.


Be extra vigilant so as not to overwater your strawberries.

If opting for an irrigation system, the drip style is recommended to keep residual mosuituire levels on the plant to a minimum.  Sprinklers, watering cans and hose pipes can quickly introduce more significant quantities of water and result in excess moisture.

6.Add a layer of mulch to your soil

This assists with your plants’ overall healthy growth and development; however, there are some secondary benefits.

Adding an extra layer of protection will assist in keeping the weeds at bay, along with the benefit of reducing contamination splashback aggravating mold spores when raining or watering occurs.

7.Time your fertilisers 

If using nitrogen-based products, it can be easy to get the timing wrong resulting in earlier or more extensive than is average leaf growth.

You may think this a good thing to assist with photosynthesis, but it is not; this is because they can grow so big they block out the much-needed sun.

Less sun exposure means more darkness and moisture retention and more favourable mould conditions.

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