When Is The Best Time To Pick Strawberries?

We've discussed mistakes everyone makes when planting strawberries, but one of the biggest is not knowing when to pick berries for the longest shelf-life and best flavor. This depends on a few things, such as the strawberry variety, but the biggest is picking them at the wrong time. You probably already know that strawberry harvesting season typically falls from June through September, but do the specifics really matter? Gardening experts say yes.

According to Gardening Know How, peak strawberry harvesting typically occurs 28 to 30 days after the plant has fully blossomed –– that's when you'll start to find fully red, plump berries hanging in clusters in your berry patch. Don't get impatient and pick mostly red berries; even if they only have a bit of white on the tip, they still need another day or two on the vine. The berries will develop at different times, so you should plan on re-harvesting every few days for three to four weeks. 

Only pick berries at certain times of the day

Picking berries for longevity also depends on the time of day you pick them. The Martha Stewart gardening guides advise that you pick berries at cooler times of the day like the morning and evening. It's even better if you can pick your strawberries on an overcast and cloudy day. This helps the berries to stay firm and bruise-resistant, and you have a better chance of getting them to last a few days in your refrigerator.

That being said, if you're lucky enough to have a thriving berry patch in your backyard, picking berries during the hottest part of the day will leave berries at their softest and sweetest, according to the Royal Horticultural Society. This is ideal if you want to use the berries immediately for a quick snack or to pop them into a fresh smoothie.

However you like to enjoy your strawberries, knowing the best time of year and day for harvesting can make all the difference. Not sure what to do with your berry bounty? Check out the recipe for 5-Ingredient Strawberry Shortcake and other tasty berry treats over at Mashed.