International Produce Training

Strawberries- Hollow Center

I have recently received a few questions regarding the presence of hollow cores, or centers of strawberries.  This defect is caused by rapid growth, due to fertilizer or heavy rains combined with heat, causing the strawberry to grow faster on the outside than the inside.  This condition is found in other fruits and vegetables, most notably potatoes and plums.  The USDA does score hollow heart in potatoes and hollow cavities in plums.


The USDA does not state any scoring guidelines when you encounter this defect in strawberries.  I would score the defect in the following manner.  If you suspect the strawberry of being hollow, but you see no external opening I would ignore the problem unless the strawberry’s shape is affected.  If the shape is affected, due to the hollow center, then score the strawberry as a defect, as misshapen.  The strawberry shown above, although having a hollow center would not be scored as a defect.


The hollow center may be extreme, where you can see the hollow center at the calyx end, much like a split pit when affecting a peach.  If you see an opening I would consider this as being a defect.  The opening is allowing for the cavity to dry out and more importantly is allowing for mold to grow within the cavity.  I would score this strawberry shown above, and any strawberry with a visible opening as a defect.  Score as damage or as serious damage when materially or seriously affecting its appearance.

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