Saturday, June 30, 2012

5 Tips on How to Store Strawberries

Four baskets of Sorted Strawberries
From Ripest to Least Ripe

Method by Robin and Live Earth Farm

Recently my husband Bruce did a Google search on “how to slice a watermelon.” One of the top suggestions Google offered was “how to store strawberries.” Seems like a lot of people are asking that question at this time of year. And it’s a sad fact that the most deliciously ripe strawberries can go moldy in a matter of hours if stored wrong. One bad strawberry might not spoil the whole basket, but it certainly discourages one from finding out by tasting.

The main cause of mold on strawberries is too much moisture and too little air circulation. Hot temperatures, especially in humid climates, are another factor. Keeping strawberries as dry as possible until just before you prepare them to eat is the goal for successful storage.

Recently people been asking me about dousing their strawberries with vinegar before storing, a suggestion they’ve seen on the internet. I advise against this. Although the acid in vinegar might discourage mold growth, the wetting of the berry does more harm than good in this regard, IMHO. Vinegar can also draw moisture from the berries, leaving them flabby and soggy. I believe this idea was originally recommended by Cook’s Illustrated for blueberries.

Here are my suggestions for storing strawberries. Some of these ideas come from Live Earth Farm, our CSA, and others we’ve developed ourselves.

Please post a comment if you have other suggestions!

3 Strawberry Baskets in Bags and one not
Three to Store and One to Eat
Tips on Storing Strawberries

1. Keep your strawberries dry and in the baskets that they came in. Don’t wash them before storing. Wash them just before eating or preparing for cooking.

2. If you can’t eat all the berries the day that you get them, store them in the refrigerator. Keep them in their baskets, protected by a loosely wrapped plastic bag. A green breathable bag, found at local natural food stores, is ideal.

3. To absorb moisture, put a folded (in quarters) paper towel on top of the basket of berries before putting strawberries into the storage bag. If you store the berries for more than two days, check the towel. If it’s very damp, exchange it with a dry towel. You can dry out the paper towels between uses and reuse them on other strawberry baskets.

4. If you have several baskets of berries or a flat, sort the berries by ripeness. Put into strawberry baskets, grouping berries of equal ripeness together. Put each basket into a bag with a paper towel as above. Then store in your refrigerator so that ripest berries are towards the front and less ripe berries in back. This facilitates eating the ripest strawberries first.

5. Consider freezing some strawberries if you have a large amount. See my blog post from last year for details.

Bonus tip: Unlike other fruits, strawberries do not continue to ripen once they're picked. What you  see in the store or at the fruit stand is what you get. Look for berries that are completely ripe, not yellowish or green at the stem end. Ideally, they will have a noticeably ripe fragrance as well.

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