Keeping Your Strawberries Fresh
TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Its strawberry season, folks! They are the first fruit of the year to appear. Yippee! You've scored some beautiful local grown strawberries from the farmers market or maybe you were able to go to a u-pick farm and toted them home with great care. You've rinsed a few off and eaten them immediately, but what to do with the rest?
First things first, don't you dare wash the strawberries until you're ready to eat them or use them. Strawberries are like small sponges and soak up all the water they come into contact with, and once they've soaked it up, they are quicker to turn to mush and mold even if they've been thoroughly patted dry.
If you bring strawberries home and want them to last, better to teach yourself and your family to give each portion a quick rinse before they are eaten. They'll taste better and last longer!
Do I refrigerate or leave them on the counter? It depends on several things. If you plan on eating or cooking with the berries within a day and it's not too hot in your kitchen, you can leave the strawberries out at room temperature. If you plan on using them in a day or two, then you are better off refrigerating them.
The best way to keep them fresh is to take them out of the plastic container they came in. Take a shallow glass bowl and lay paper towels on the bottom of the bowl. In a single layer, place the strawberries in the bowl allowing room for air to flow in between the berries. Do not over crowd them. Add another paper towel and layer with more berries, being sure not to overcrowd the berries. Cover with a lid or wrap, and chill the berries until you're ready to use them. Stored this way, very fresh strawberries will keep for several days. The purpose of the paper towels is to soak up excess moisture from the strawberries.
If you want longer term storage and aren’t planning on using the strawberries within a few days, you're better off freezing them than trying to keep them all fresh and unblemished. Frozen strawberries are perfect for whirling in smoothies, turning into sauces, or baking up in pies, tarts, cakes, making jam and other treats.
And the good news is you don't need a lot of berries to freeze them. Dry pack them. The dry pack is good for small whole fruits such as berries that give a good quality product without sugar. Select fully ripe, firm berries with a deep red color. Discard immature and defective fruit. Wash and remove caps. Pack the fruit into a container, seal and freeze. A tray pack is an alternative that may make the fruit easier to remove from the container. Simply spread a single layer of prepared fruit on shallow trays and freeze. When frozen, promptly package and return to the freezer. The fruit pieces remain loose and can be poured from the container and then the package is re-closed. Be sure to package the fruit as soon as it is frozen to prevent freezer burn.
Arkansas fresh strawberries are available on Saturdays at the Gateway Farmers’ Market
in downtown Texarkana. However, time is short so get yours soon.
So now that you know what you need to do to keep your locally grown strawberries fresh, what’s next? Get your free copy of Arkansas Fresh Strawberries here or contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at email@example.com , on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller
This fresh salad is tossed with a sweet poppy seed dressing that is best served immediately. Allowing the strawberries to marinate too long in the dressing will take away some of their sweetness.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 bag ready to eat spinach, rinsed and stems removed
10 large strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup sliced almonds or candied pecans
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Mix the spinach, strawberries, red onion and almonds in a large bowl. In a blender, place the sugar, salt, vinegar, and oil, and blend until smooth. Stir in poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.
By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
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