How to Choose Strawberries
Spring is in full swing and that means delicious local strawberries are in season. Arkansas strawberries are usually available from late April through the month of May.
What should I look for when buying strawberries?
Fully ripe strawberries will have a rich red color, bright green caps, and a sweet smell. This ensures the berries were picked at the peak of freshness and will meet your expectation of what a strawberry should taste like. As tempting as the big ones may be, medium-size berries are more flavorful than large berries. Twelve very large berries or 36 small berries equals a pint. One pint yields about 3¼ cups whole, 2¼ cups sliced or 1⅔ cups pureed berries.
Strawberries with bruises or without caps do not store well and should not be purchased.
Also, strawberries do not continue to ripen once they are picked. So be on the lookout for white or pale pink berries and steer clear of them.
How to store strawberries
If you don’t plan to eat your strawberries the day you bring them home, the best place for them is in the high-humidity crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It helps to maintain humidity and keep the berries from losing moisture and wilting. Always remove bruised, rotted or molded berries before storing. Never rinse the berries or remove the caps before storing. Removing the cap early can reduce flavor, texture and nutrient quality.
Strawberries can only be stored for a couple of days in the refrigerator. If held longer, a grey mold may develop. For optimal refrigeration, place berries no more than two berries deep in a shallow container or tray covered with waxed paper or plastic wrap.
Keep in mind, even when properly stored, strawberries only last a day or two in the refrigerator.
Remember to wash your berries
Strawberries should only be washed when you are ready to use them. Like most berries, washing them ahead of time causes the fruit to break down. Like all other fruits and vegetables, strawberries should be washed under clean, running water before eating them. You should also use clean knives and cutting surfaces, and make sure you have washed your hands prior to preparing the berries for eating.
What does it mean to “put up” strawberries?
Putting up strawberries typically means you are going to freeze them for later use. This is a 4 step process.
- Gently wash strawberries.
- Remove and discard strawberry caps.
- Add sugar to berries.
- Allow berries time to breakdown
Add ¾ cup sugar to 4 cups (1⅓ pounds) whole, sliced or crushed strawberries and mix thoroughly. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved or let stand for 15 minutes. Place in containers; leave ½-inch headspace for pints and 1-inch headspace for quarts.
Why should I eat strawberries?
Besides being great to eat, strawberries are a great addition to a healthy diet. They provide vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Vitamin C helps protect skin from bruising, helps heal cuts and keeps gums healthy. Eating foods with vitamin C helps the body absorb some important minerals including iron. They also provide the body with potassium and fiber. Potassium is also present, which helps control blood pressure and possibly prevent strokes.
Nutrition Facts per 1 cup serving of sliced strawberries