Is It OK to Eat Moldy Strawberries?

Will a couple of moldy strawberries ruin the whole bunch? Let's find out.

Strawberry season is coming! We’re ready to pack up and head to one of the country’s best U-pick farms in search of fresh fruit. But with strawberry season comes the heartbreak that is wasted, mushy strawberries.

Is it safe to eat a moldy strawberry? Will one moldy berry ruin your whole supply? Here’s what we know.

Can You Eat Moldy Strawberries?

Never eat a strawberry that you know is moldy. Mold is a microscopic fungus, and the patches we see on fruit are the spores that grow from mold. These patches of mold might look like white or discolored spots. (Read more about whether you can eat moldy cheese.) Moldy strawberries are usually mushy and have a foul smell as well.

Mold can contain toxins that lead to health problems. Moldy fruit may also be contaminated with bacteria. Strawberries have a lot of moisture, which makes them a potential breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

Don’t miss any of these strawberry mistakes you may be making.

What Happens If I Ate Moldy Strawberries?

If you ate a moldy strawberry, you probably knew something was off right away. Moldy berries are very soft and taste bad. Usually, when you pop a moldy strawberry in your mouth, you spit it out before eating it.

It’s helpful to remember that the mold that typically grows on fruit does not contain toxins that usually cause side effects or illness. However, if you are pregnant, immunocompromised or older, keep an eye out for any new symptoms after eating a moldy berry. If you start to experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, check in with your healthcare provider. (Learn more about moldy food.)

The bottom line? Eating one moldy berry will probably have no impact on your health or how you feel.

Find a way to use overripe strawberries ASAP.

Will One Moldy Strawberry Spoil the Whole Bunch?

There is no need to throw out an entire carton of strawberries because of one moldy berry. If you find mold on one of your strawberries, throw it out along with any other berries that were touching the moldy one. Next, carefully examine the berries you have left. Toss any that are very soft or bruised. If the rest look fresh, give them a thorough rinse and enjoy them. Here’s the right way to wash your berries.

There’s one exception to the rule, though. While most of us can safely eat berries in a carton with a moldy one, throw out the whole bunch if you have a mold allergy.

Keep in mind that spores from moldy food can build up in your refrigerator. To keep your fruit as fresh as possible, be sure to clean the inside of your fridge every few months with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 quart of water. Oh, and here’s how to store your strawberries to keep them fresher longer.

Recipes to Make with Fresh Strawberries
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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.