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Tips for choosing, cleaning and storing fresh strawberries

Now is the time to enjoy and use fresh strawberries in your food preparation.

The weather is a huge issue with berries when it comes to the seeds, size and length of season. My advice is to start picking and eating when they are ripe, and then properly freeze them for later. I think the flavor of the berry is best if you eat while you are picking.

When selecting or picking strawberries, choose fully ripened, bright red berries. The berries do change color after picking, but the flavor is not the same as plant-ripened berries. Choose plump, well-rounded berries that have a natural shine and a rich red color with bright green, fresh-looking caps.

To ensure the highest nutritional value, flavor and appearance, it is best if you use strawberries as soon as they are picked or purchased. If you want to store them, they will keep best if arranged in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other shallow container for refrigeration. The cool refrigerator temperature will help keep the berries fresh and bright for several days.

Don’t rinse strawberries or remove caps until just before using. Rinsing removes the natural protective outer layer. The caps protect the nutrients and help preserve flavor and texture.

To rinse, place berries in a colander or large strainer and rinse with a gentle spray of cool water. The caps prevent water and soil from soaking into the strawberries, diluting the flavor and changing the texture.

To remove a cap, give it a gentle twist or use the point of a sharp paring knife. You can also purchase a tool for cap removing with an ergonomically correct handle. Many kitchen stores have it, and it really works.

Pat the strawberries dry with paper towels before serving.

Strawberries are an excellent sources of Vitamin C, with one cup supplying about 150 percent of the U.S. recommended daily allowance for the average adult. Strawberries are also a source of iron. One cup of fresh, whole strawberries provides about 8 percent of the U.S. RDA for iron.

One of the best things about strawberries is that a whole cup has only about 50 calories. Sweet, juicy strawberries are a great addition to your healthy eating.

Find more information about strawberries and their goodness online.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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