No matter what time of year you're buying them, picking the best strawberries at the store is always a challenge. It's all to easy to buy a carton of mush or berries that have no taste at all. But knowing how to pick strawberries at the store is easier than you'd think once you've learned what to watch out for. Here are some tips to help you choose the highest quality strawberries from the store year-round. 

#SpoonTip: The growing season may differ depending on where you live, but generally peak strawberry season starts around April and comes to an end in June. 

1. Check for a bright red color

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Tess Tarantino

Color is a major factor involved in picking strawberries. If there's any whiteness found around the stems, the berries were not picked at peak ripeness. The brighter the color, the sweeter the strawberry. Look for a brilliant red with minimal discoloration to ensure the highest possible level of ripeness. 

2. Choose smaller berry sizes

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Caroline Ingalls

You may be getting more bang for your buck with larger-sized strawberries, but you might sacrifice flavor. Small berries tend to be juicier and hold much more flavor than larger ones. Bigger berries often contain more water, which dilutes the taste. When you're picking strawberries, less really does mean more.

3. Avoid softness and excess moisture

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Amelia Hitchens

The last thing anybody wants is a mushy strawberry. Before purchasing, check the bottom of the container to see if the paper is stained. If it is, that may indicate that some of the berries are overripe. If the berries sit in the moisture for long enough, you'll start to notice white patches of mold growing on them. Ensuring that the fruits are dry and firm is integral to selecting the correct texture and ripeness. 

4. Make sure caps are green and fresh

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Mackenzie Patel

You probably want the freshest berries you can snag, and examining the leaves on top of the berries, or caps, is one of the best ways to tell how fresh they really are. The caps of each strawberry should be a lively green color. Dead or drying caps indicate that the berries have been sitting in the store for a while.

5. Buy local if you can  

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Sam Jesner

There's nothing sweeter than locally-purchased farmer's market strawberries. Since these are sourced closer to your area, they don't have to be picked before they're ripe in order to survive the shipping process, as is often the case with supermarket strawberries. The fresh ones can be harvested at peak ripeness, allowing for much more flavor. 

Figuring out how to pick strawberries can be a tricky ordeal, but it's honestly just a learning process. You might not always have time to examine each carton, but the more familiar you become with ripe strawberries, the easier it'll be to quickly find them. In the off-season, you can go for strawberry lemonade, a DIY Starbucks pink drink, strawberry pie, or cheesecake-stuffed strawberries in order to satisfy your strawberry cravings until strawberry season returns.