Strawberry FAQ

Can you share tips for selecting strawberries in the store?

California strawberries are fully ripe at the time they are picked and do not continue to ripen after harvesting. Choose berries with a bright red color and fresh, green caps (aka calyxes). Be sure to inspect the package to make sure there are no moldy berries.

Are organic strawberries healthier than conventional?

Most studies to date show that organic and conventional strawberries are equally nutritious. Conventional strawberries are grown by farmers using many organic-approved growing practices.

Health and nutrition experts recommend eating more fresh fruits and veggies – whether organic or conventional. According to the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people should be doubling their fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce their risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight.

Where in California are strawberries grown? 

Strawberries grow along the California coast on about 35,000 acres.  During peak season, strawberries are harvested in Salinas, Watsonville, Santa Maria, Oxnard and Orange County. During the cooler months, strawberries continue to be harvested in Santa Maria and Oxnard, making California strawberries available year-round.  

What is the dirty dozen list, and should I be concerned?

Health experts and scientists say produce, grown either conventionally or organically, is safe to eat. Americans are advised to eat more fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. For more info on the topic visit

How much do strawberry pickers make?

California berry fields provide some of the best paying jobs and benefits for rural communities. Wages vary seasonally, and harvest workers can earn more than $30 per hour during peak harvest. These wages are higher than entry level jobs in retail or tourism. Most farm employees receive health insurance: farms with 50 or more employees comply with the Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage options. All farm employees receive medical and disability insurance for work-related injuries. Under California’s workers’ compensation system, employees are provided prompt medical treatment for on-the-job injuries or illnesses no matter who is at fault.

 Are there tiny bugs in strawberries?

Strawberries, as well as many fruits and vegetables, are grown outdoors. Strawberries are hand-picked and packed in the field, directly into the “clamshell” containers. Because of this, an occasional bug or worm is not unusual and may find its way into a package and go undetected until the berries are ready for use. Some consumers have also seen (on social media) the appearance of tiny bugs on some berries after being submerged in saltwater baths. There is no need for concern. 

According to the FDA, microscopic bugs or bug parts on produce is common on produce, unavoidable and present no health hazards for humans. It is not recommended to soak your berries in salt water, as this may cause the fruit to taste bad or spoil. Experts recommend consuming more fruits and vegetables to stay healthy and avoid chronic illness. 

How do I wash strawberries and other fresh fruit?

According to the FDA, you can follow these steps to wash your fruits and vegetables, including strawberries: 

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before handling food. 
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is NOT recommended. 
  • Even if you do not plan to eat the skin, it is still important to wash produce first so dirt and bacteria are not transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce. Scrub firm rinds with a clean produce brush (berries should not be scrubbed).
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. These areas are more susceptible to bacteria. Throw away any produce that looks rotten. 
  • After washing, dry produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface. 
  • Many pre-cut, bagged, or packaged produce items are pre-washed and ready-to-eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging, and you can use the produce without further washing. If you choose to wash produce marked as “pre-washed” or “ready-to-eat,” be sure that it does not come in contact with unclean surfaces or utensils. This will help to avoid cross–contamination. 
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item. 

How long does it take for strawberries to get to stores after being harvested?

California strawberries are picked and packed by and in the field. They are then taken to a cooler where they are prepared for shipping within hours of being picked. Strawberries are shipped in refrigerated trucks across the country to arrive in stores within 3-4 days.

How can I get my strawberries to last longer?

Refrigerate strawberries as soon as possible in the original clamshell, or layer strawberries in an airtight container lined with a paper towel. Prior to enjoying and before preparing, rinse strawberries under cool, running water. Gently pat dry. Strawberries taste best served at room temperature.

What is the best method for growing strawberries in my home garden?

Growing strawberries as a hobby is very different from commercial strawberry production. Our advice is to contact your local nursery for growing tips based on the climate where you live.

When are California strawberries in season?

Throughout the year strawberries are being harvested in California. Depending on the weather, peak strawberry season begins in early spring and runs all the way through fall.

Is it true that California strawberries are grown without GMO technology?

Yes. There are no genetically modified strawberries commercially grown and shipped.

Different varieties of strawberries are developed for different climates and growing conditions. These varieties are developed using traditional breeding methods that involve selecting two parents and crossing them using their flowers.

How can I freeze strawberries?

There are a few different ways to freeze strawberries. One popular method is to freeze whole without sugar to maintain shape and nutritional benefits. Directions: After rinsing, gently blot dry and slice stem off at top of berry. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and place uncovered in freezer for a minimum of six hours. Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag or container. Frozen strawberries can be stored frozen for several months.

Do small strawberries taste better than larger ones?

Flavor is influenced by growing conditions like weather, stage of ripeness when harvested, and variety. Size is not a factor in determining flavor.

What is the best way to eat strawberries?

Fresh California strawberries are most flavorful at room temperature. They can be enjoyed just as they are, or added to cereal, salad, or enjoyed as a sweet or savory snack any time of day. For inspiration, check out our recipe pages or follow @castrawberries on Instagram.

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