What’s the first thought that comes to your mind, when you think of strawberries?
It is probably of a mouth-watering dessert of strawberries mixed with fresh cream? There’s nothing that says “Hello Summer” quite like eating a juicy vine-ripened strawberry that has been ripened to perfection in the early summer sunshine.
Strawberries serve more than just fulfilling the sweet tooth. It is packed with hordes of health benefits, making a nutritious fruit for mind and body.
Selecting and Purchasing Strawberries:
Naturally the best strawberries are the ones you pick yourself from your local strawberry fields or purchase from your local produce stands and/or Farmers’ markets.
In the stores, always choose locally grown strawberries during the harvesting season (they are sweeter and juicier than those that are bred for shipment). Remember, your local strawberry season only lasts 3 to 4 weeks.
When purchasing berries from the grocery store, shop with your nose. Always pick the plumpest and most fragrant berries. They should be firm, bright, and fresh looking with no mold or bruises, and fresh green caps (stems). The caps should be bright green, fresh looking and fully attached. Berries should be dry and clean; usually medium to small berries have better eating quality than large ones
Strawberries do not ripen after they have been harvested, so choose strawberries that have been picked fully ripened. They should have bright red color, natural shine and fresh looking green caps.
Select berries that are in dry; unstained containers (stained containers may indicate over soft berries that are not freshly picked). Mold on berries spreads quickly – Never leave a moldy berry next to a good one.
Storing and preparing strawberries:
Use the berries as soon as possible as strawberries ripen no further once picked.
Before using or storing, sort through the strawberries and separate the soft ones from the firm, fully ripe berries. Discard any mushy or spoiled berries.
Leave the caps (stems) on the strawberries until ready to eat or use in your recipes.
For best flavor, do not wash the strawberries until you are ready to eat or use them. Moisture is the enemy when it comes to storing strawberries.
As strawberries tastes best at room temperature, remove from the refrigerator approximately 1 hour before they are to be used.
Store fresh strawberries in a colander in the refrigerator. This allows the cold air to circulate around them. Do not cover them.
Remove caps from strawberries only after washing (the caps keep the water from breaking down the texture and flavor inside the strawberries).
Prepare strawberries for serving by rinsing with caps still attached under a gentle spray of cool water; pat dry with a paper towel. Wash the berries just before you plan to use them. Tip: To keep strawberries from absorbing large quantities of water when washing them, place in a salad spinner to remove excess water.
Remove the green caps (stems) with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife. It’s as easy as a twist of the wrist. You can also purchase a strawberry de-stemmer/huller at your local kitchen store or online (see photo on left).
Peace and Shortcake