Strawberry Storage

Do you need to know more about strawberry storage? Find out how to wash and care for freshly picked strawberries, how to freeze strawberries and more!

Strawberries in a Freezer Storage Bag

Strawberries in a Freezer Storage Bag

So you've got some fresh strawberries and you're wondering about proper strawberry storage? The first thing to do is to closely examine each strawberry, and carefully slice away any bruises or other bad spots, and to remove the "calyx", or "hull" (this is called "hulling" the strawberry). The calyx is the green, leafy part of the strawberry. Click here to see a strawberry cross-section that shows exactly what the calyx is. After hulling all of the strawberries and removing all the bad spots, it's time for the strawberries' "wash".

Many people are concerned about chemical residues on strawberries. If you grow your own strawberries without using pesticides or herbicides, or if you buy strawberries from a source that you know grows the strawberries using "organic" techniques, then you may not have any problem. However, if you buy strawberries without knowing whether or not they are grown "organically", then you might decide to take additional steps to reduce your chances of exposure to any hazardous chemicals. How concerned you should be about chemical residues also depends on where in the world that your strawberries are grown, as countries differ in how successfully they regulate food quality.

One important thing that you can do is to "wash" the strawberries, which is actually just rinsing the fruit thoroughly in warm water. Using your fingers to rub over the surface of the berries while holding them under running water will remove quite a bit of contamination (you may prefer to wear gloves while doing this).

Another option is to use a knife to "peel" the strawberries, that is, to shave off and discard the outside of the fruit. This is especially effective at removing any chemical residue that might be down in the crevices around the strawberry seeds, and it has the added benefit of removing the hard seeds as well. If you do peel your strawberries, they should still be rinsed after peeling.

However you decide to handle your strawberries, do NOT wash them with any kind of soap or detergent! Soaps and detergents can cause excess water in the intestines, leading to diarrhea and dehydration difficulties. Additionally, if the soap or detergent is anti-bacterial then it can kill the colonies of bacteria in the intestines. Many of the bacteria in the intestines are needed for proper digestion, as well as to help control harmful types of bacteria, fungi, etc. You should never use any kind of soap or other detergent to wash food (and you should always make sure that your dishes are rinsed very thoroughly, too).

At this point, if the strawberries are going to be used in fresh strawberry recipes, it should be done right away. Unfortunately, strawberries quickly begin to decay and become soft.

However, if you want to wait less than a day to use the strawberries, the best thing to do is to gently shake off the rinse water from the berries and lay them out on parchment or wax paper to air dry. If you do this, be sure to rotate the berries every few minutes, moving them to dry spots on the paper to make sure they dry completely. If you have a dryer, you can also use that, of course, so long as it doesn't heat the berries (which would dry them too much).

Some people recommend using a cloth to dry the berries, but it is not recommended here, since a cloth will tend to contaminate the berries and lead to more rapid spoilage. After drying the strawberries, they can be placed in the refrigerator to further protect them.

If your strawberry storage will be more than a day, but less than 3-4 days, you can put the berries in a 50% water/50% sugar solution that will protect the berries up to 4 days. However, the strawberries will be "pickled" somewhat in this sugary "brine" (the strawberries will absorb some of the sugar, and it will not be possible for you to wash all of the sugar out again). This should be taken into consideration when the strawberries are finally used.

Beyond 4 days, the best options for strawberry storage are either to dry them in a food dryer, or to freeze them. However, both methods will greatly change the color and texture of the strawberries: dried strawberries tend to become more rubbery; frozen strawberries become very soft when they thaw; and both will become very dark, losing their beautiful red coloration. (One alternative for coloration is to buy freeze-dried strawberries. These must be bought rather than made at home, since the equipment necessary to freeze-dry foods is far too expensive for a household kitchen.)

The best/proper way to freeze fresh strawberries is simply to put washed and dried berries in dated and labeled freezer bags. Strawberries can be frozen while still wet, but it is better for the strawberries to be dry first.

Can fresh strawberries be frozen without blanching? Yes, definitely. "Blanching" (placing the berries in boiling water for a few seconds) will better sterilize the berries, but it is not necessary. The important thing is that the berries are kept below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius/Centigrade).

How long will frozen strawberries last? It depends on many things, but 8-12 months is normal.

Recipes for frozen strawberry storage usually involve freezing the berries in the 50% water/50% sugar solution mentioned above, or in a similar 50% water/50% brown sugar solution (soak the berries in the solution for 12 hours in the refrigerator, then drain before bagging and freezing). If you use this method of strawberry storage, be sure to factor in the amount of sugar already in the frozen strawberries when preparing your recipes.

As you can see, freezing whole, fresh strawberries is a simple process. Although fresh strawberries are almost always better, frozen strawberries are fine for baking, for blender drinks and strawberry purees. And it is much cheaper to buy strawberries and freeze them when they are in season than to buy them when they are out of season in your area.

Please remember that you found this strawberry storage and care information here at StrawberriesForStrawberryLovers.Com, Home of the World's Happiest Fruit!

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