How To Tell If Strawberries Are Bad (With Pictures!)

Most strawberries look okay to eat—they may have a little bruise or a few spots, but they taste fine. If you’ve seen a bruised strawberry or one with spots, you may wonder if it’s still okay to eat? In some cases, it’s difficult to tell if strawberries are rotten or not. So how do you tell if strawberries are bad?

strawberries in a white bowl

To tell if strawberries are bad, you’ll need to inspect them. Strawberries that are bad may have white fuzz, brown spots and may be mushy. They may also taste off and have an alcoholic smell. If you see fruit flies and other bugs feasting on your strawberries, they may be going bad.

Strawberries don’t last long, and you may be surprised that they go off relatively quickly when left at room temperature. Therefore, when choosing strawberries, you should try to find strawberries that are firm when touched and have no spots or bruises. These are the ones that will last the longest.

strawberries with text 'how to tell if strawberries are spoiled'

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How to Tell If Strawberries Are Bad – 10 Signs to Look For

There are a few common signs that you should look out for when determining if your strawberries are bad. These include your strawberries having an alcoholic smell, signs of white fuzz and brown spots, bruising, and tasting off. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Sign #1: Strawberries Have Brown Spots

When strawberries develop brown spots, they are starting to go bad. Sunken and dark areas on your strawberries are a sign they are getting old. You can still eat them at this stage as long as they don’t have any mold. A strawberry should be discarded and not eaten if it is soft and mushy with brown spots.

Sign #2: White Fuzz/Mold Is Growing On The Strawberries

If your strawberries look fuzzy, they may have white or gray mold. This is a definite sign that they are bad. Even if you can cut off the moldy bits on your strawberries, to be safe moldy strawberries should not be eaten. Sometimes mold can be hidden and may not always be visible. You could even purchase a fresh-looking container of strawberries only to get home to find they have mold underneath.

spoiled moldy strawberries

Sign #3: The Strawberries Are Too Soft

Healthy and fresh strawberries should be firm to the touch. Strawberries that are starting to go bad will be very soft and mushy. When strawberries begin to go mushy, it’s a sign they are decomposing. If kept in a container, your strawberries will start leaking fluid and be very soft without you touching them. Mushy strawberries can also contain bacteria that cause them to go mushy and soft. If you see soft strawberries, you should remove them, so they don’t pass any bacteria onto the fresh strawberries.

Look out for soft spots on other fruits going bad too, like lemons, oranges, peaches, and watermelon!

Sign #4: The Strawberries Smell Off

When strawberries go bad, they have an alcoholic smell. Strawberries may also smell like rotten fruit. If strawberries smell bad, they should not be eaten, and a foul odor is a sure sign your strawberries are bad.

Sign #5: The Strawberries Are Losing Their Color

Strawberries tend to lose their bright color when refrigerated for a long time. This can also happen if strawberries are kept at room temperature. Strawberries stored in the fridge may become lighter in color as they go bad. In contrast, strawberries kept at room temperature may go darker red as they become overripe and go bad.

soft light colored bad strawberry vs good strawberry

Sign #6: There Are Bruises On The Strawberries

Strawberries with a little bruising can be acceptable to eat. Still, bruises are also an indication that the strawberries are going bad. Strawberries are prone to bruises when they start to become soft. Unfortunately, bruises can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and cause your strawberries to go bad even quicker.

Sign #7: Dry And Browning Calyx

The calyx is the green leafy bit at the top of your strawberries. If the calyx starts losing color, becomes dry and brown, and even falls off, this is a sign that your strawberries are going bad. On the other hand, if the calyx is still green and intact, your strawberries are still fine to eat.

Sign #8: The Strawberries Taste-Off

One of the first signs that your strawberries are rotten is that they taste off. They may have an unpleasant taste, a sour taste, or a mushy texture, or they could even have no taste. This is a good sign that your strawberries are going bad and should not be eaten.

Sign # 9: There Are Bugs On The Strawberries

Fruit flies are one of the most common reasons why fruit goes bad. If there are fruit flies or bugs inside and on your strawberries, your strawberries are going bad. Fruit flies are generally attracted to rotten fruit but infest healthy fruit too.

Sign #10: The Strawberries Are Leaking Juice

Strawberries typically don’t leak juice unless they are squished or going bad. If your strawberries are leaking fluid without being handled, then they are going bad. These can be okay to eat, depending on the condition of the strawberries. If they are very bruised, mushing, and leaking juice, instead toss them.

Using Up Overripe Strawberries

If you need to use up strawberries fast before they completely spoil, there are a variety of things you can do!

You can freeze them and use them in smoothies—like this strawberry-grape smoothie, strawberry-peach smoothie, or strawberry-cherry smoothie.

I also love using them in baked goods like these strawberry shortcake muffins, or using them to thicken up a milkshake and make it taste better!

More Questions About Spoiled Strawberries

If your strawberries are showing signs of going bad, they may be safe to eat. If your strawberries smell bad, they should probably not be eaten. If your strawberries have mold, they should also not be eaten, but if there is slight bruising and they still feel firm, they may be okay to eat.

Is It Bad To Eat Old Strawberries?

It isn’t bad to eat old strawberries as long as you keep in mind how long strawberries last. If refrigerated, strawberries can last up to 7 days. If left at room temperature, they can last 1-2 days, depending on the temperature.

When eating old strawberries, you should check for bugs, mold, and the overall smell and texture of the strawberries to determine if they are acceptable to eat.

Can Overripe Strawberries Make You Sick?

Overripe strawberries are unlikely to make you sick, but it depends on the number of strawberries you’ve eaten. Eating a strawberry with some mold on it won’t make you sick if you happen to eat it. Usually, you’ll be able to smell if a strawberry is bad, and the smell may be so off-putting that it won’t make you want to eat it.

Eating contaminated strawberries can make you sick. In some cases, strawberries can give you a foodborne illness which can give you headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fever. This does not happen often but can be severe when it does.

Can I Eat Discolored Strawberries?

If strawberries are discolored and seem shriveled, they may be going bad but can still be okay to eat if eaten on the same day or the next day. Discoloring in strawberries is usually a sign they are going off, but if they have no other signs of going bad like mold or spots, they should be fine to eat.

Are Mushy Strawberries Okay To Eat?

Generally, mushy strawberries are strawberries that have gone bad. Slight bruising can be fine, but it depends on the condition of the strawberries. Most mushy strawberries should not be eaten as they are in the process of rotting and can carry bacteria or mold. However, eating mushy strawberries may not make you sick, but they can taste and smell bad.

How Long Does Before Strawberries Go Bad?

If freshly picked strawberries are left on the countertop, they will likely go bad in a day or 2. Some may even go bad within a couple of hours when temperatures are scorching. Therefore, strawberries should be kept refrigerated or frozen to extend their shelf life. If kept in the refrigerator, strawberries will likely go bad within 7 days.


Strawberries are a popular berry, for good reason. They are delicious! However, it is an unfortunate truth that strawberries go bad faster than other fruits. Make sure to inspect a pack of strawberries you get from the store and remove any soft strawberries right away. Eat your strawberries within a few days so they don’t go bad before you can enjoy them!

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