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All About Strawberries

How to Buy, Store, and Use Strawberries

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Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in spring and early summer. Perfectly ripe strawberries are best eaten out of hand, but they also make great additions to salads and plenty of desserts.

Strawberry Season

Strawberries
Ursula Alter/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Strawberries are the most cultivated berry in the country. They are grown in every state and are available at most farmers markets, if only for a brief time in colder climates. Nothing beats fresh, local berries.

That said, most commercial strawberries in the U.S. are grown in California or Florida, where the strawberry growing season runs from January through November but peak season is April through June. Other areas of the country have shorter growing seasons that range from five-months to as short as a few weeks in the coldest areas.

Strawberry Varieties

Photo © Molly Watson

Some 600 strawberry varieties are grown in the U.S. If you find different varieties at your local farmers market, you may be surprised by how varied they are in shape, color and taste. Typically, the smaller the berry, the greater the intensity of flavor (large berries tend to have more water and a slightly diluted flavor).

How to Buy Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson
Choose brightly colored, dry, firm, shiny, plump berries that still have fresh-looking green caps attached. Avoid soft, dull looking, or shriveled berries. Since strawberries do not ripen after being picked, avoid berries that are partly white or otherwise unripe. It may seem obvious to say, but strawberries should smell like strawberries. Take a whiff before you buy.

How to Store & Wash Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson

Do not wash or hull strawberries until you're ready to use them. Store (preferably in a single layer on a paper towel) in a moisture proof container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. See more specifics at How to Store Strawberries.

To wash strawberries, place berries in a large colander and rinse gently with cool water. Lay strawberries in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or layer of paper towels and pat dry. See more at How to Wash Strawberries.

How to Hull Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson

Unless you're eating strawberries out of hand, you need to hull them. Hulling a strawberry means removing the inedible green caps from the fruit. To do this, place the tip of your knife at the base of the cap, insert gently to remove only the soft white part at the base of the stem and slowly turn the strawberry. Once you come full circle the top will pop right off without sacrificing too much flesh. You can also use a strawberry huller if you like specialty kitchen gadgets, but a simple paring knife works just fine. For step-by-step directions, see How to Hull Strawberries.

Growing & Picking Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson
Get the freshest strawberries possible by growing—or at least picking—them yourself:

How to Freeze Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson

Freezing your own strawberries is easy. Hull them, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze them until they're solid (overnight usually does it), transfer them to a resealable plastic storage bag, and keep them frozen until you're ready to use them. Frozen strawberries will keep up to six months (even a year in a stand-alone freezer with reliable temperature control). See more detailed directions at this Guide to Freezing Strawberries.

Quick Ways to Serve Strawberries

Photo © Molly Watson
Perfectly ripe strawberries are best eaten out of hand. If you're willing to put in just a tad more effort, try one of these quick strawberry serving ideas:
  • Pour a bit of heavy cream over strawberries, sprinkle with sugar to taste
  • Drizzle strawberries with a good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • Dip strawberries in sour cream or plain yogurt and then into a bit of brown sugar
  • Combine with other berries, melons, and tropical fruits in a simple fruit salad
  • Slice and sprinkle with sugar for an Easy Strawberry Sauce
  • Mash strawberries and fold into some sweetened whip cream to make a Strawberry Fool, the world's easiest dessert

Strawberry Recipes

Photo © Molly Watson

Strawberries are great in tarts and pies, of course. They also add sweetness and flavor to savory dishes like Strawberry Goat Cheese Hazelnut Salad or Strawberry Poblano Salsa

Strawberries are also delicious blended into a Strawberry Almond Smoothie or a Strawberry Chocolate Shake.

For a real treat, try Strawberry Ricotta Muffins - tender, sweet, and addictive - or, of course, Strawberry Shortcake. See all my favorite Local Foods Strawberry Recipes here.

Strawberry Nutrition

As if great taste weren't enough... strawberries also contain plenty of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Related Video
How to Grow Strawberries

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