Strawberries can be washed using a variety of methods, including water or a salt bath, and vinegar including white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.
Strawberries are delicious, nutritious fruits that come in various sizes and colors.
They form the basis of a number of delicious dishes and treats, and can also be enjoyed as they are, without any preparation.
Knowing how to wash, prepare and store your strawberries is an important part of enjoying these tasty fruits, and we have put together the ultimate guide to help you make the most of every crop.
So, how do you properly wash strawberries? Let’s find out.
What Are Strawberries?
Strawberries are small berries that grow on plants belonging to the genus Fragaria.
There are two main types: F. vesca (the European strawberry) and F. virginiana (the American strawberry), and both are easily distinguished by their bright red fruit.
Today, strawberries are grown all over the world and are cultivated in temperate regions such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile.
The majority of strawberries produced worldwide are used for fresh consumption, but some are processed into jams, jellies, juices, and other preserves.
Strawberries began to be grown commercially during the Middle Ages, with the first documented evidence of strawberry cultivation dating back to 1277, when King Edward I of England ordered his subjects to plant new gardens with this particular fruit.
In the early 20th century, strawberry production increased significantly, thanks to the development of modern farming techniques.
Today, strawberries are one of the most widely-grown crops in the world, and are responsible for about 80% of the total volume of fresh produce consumed each year.
How Do You Grow Strawberries?
Growing strawberries requires a lot of patience because it can take a few seasons before the plants begin producing fruit.
However, once the harvest begins, there’s no need to worry about having enough supplies, since strawberries will keep well in the refrigerator for up to five days – provided that they are prepared and stored correctly, as we shall see shortly.
You should start growing strawberries from seedlings or cuttings. If you want to use seeds, sow them indoors in late winter or early spring.
Planting out after the last frost date is ideal. When planting out, ensure that the soil has been prepared properly and that the roots of the seedlings are not exposed to cold drafts.
If you prefer to buy ready-made plants, you can find them in nurseries and garden centers throughout the year.
It’s best to choose plants that have already sprouted leaves and flowers, as these will bear fruits more quickly.
If you live in a warm climate, you may be able to grow strawberries directly outdoors. In cooler climates, however, you’ll need to protect the plants from frosts and direct sunlight.
When choosing which varieties to grow, bear in mind that different varieties require different levels of care.
For example, some varieties are very sensitive to pests and diseases, while others are less susceptible.
The best time to pick strawberries depends on where you live. In warmer areas, it’s best to wait until the end of summer, when the weather is still hot and dry.
In colder regions, you should wait until the beginning of autumn, when the nights are getting shorter and the temperature starts dropping.
The best way to store your strawberries is in the refrigerator. Once they’re ripe, remove the stems and wash them thoroughly under running water.
Then place them in an airtight container and cover them with plastic wrap. Store them in the refrigerator for up to five days.
How To Prepare Strawberries
Once you’ve picked your strawberries, you must prepare them for consumption. The easiest method is to simply rinse them off under running water.
This removes any dirt and debris that might have accumulated on their surface.
However, if you want to make sure that all traces of pesticides and fertilizers have been removed, you should soak your berries in a solution of vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water).
Let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then drain them and rinse them again under running water.
We will take a closer look at the best ways to prepare and clean strawberries shortly, offering you some of the best methods to ensure clean, hygienic strawberries.
How To Help Your Strawberries Last For Longer
So, once your strawberries are picked and preserved, just how can you go about helping them to last for as long as possible?
We have some top tips, and these include:
Keep Them At The Right Temperature
For strawberries to thrive, they need to be kept at the perfect temperature, and this tends to be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can do this by placing them in a cool area of your homes, such as a basement or garage to keep them at the perfect temperature or try using a fridge or freezer.
If strawberries get too hot, they can very quickly start to spoil.
So, if you don’t have access to a fridge or freezer, you could also consider keeping them in a basket in the shade.
Store Them Properly
Strawberries tend to lose flavor over time, so it’s important to store them correctly. First, you should always keep them away from light.
This means that you shouldn’t leave them sitting out on windowsills or shelves.
Instead, you should either put them in a dark cupboard or drawer or, even better, in the fridge.
You should also avoid storing them near other foods, as this can cause them to rot, and ensure that you store them as soon as you can.
Wash Them Before Use
It is also important to wash your strawberries properly before each use, and we have briefly touched upon this.
Washing your fruit will help to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on its surface.
It will also ensure that there aren’t any harmful bacteria lurking within the fruit itself.
What Are The Best Methods For Washing Strawberries?
So, just which are the optimum methods for washing strawberries to help them last as long as possible?
There are a few options, and these include:
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is one of the most effective ways to clean your strawberries. Simply pour 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar into a bowl and add 2 cups of warm water.
Next, cut your strawberries in half if desired and place them into the mixture. Leave them to soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain them well and rinse them under running water.
Another great option is baking soda. Simply mix together equal amounts of baking soda and warm water, and use this to soak your strawberries.
After soaking, drain them well and rinse them with fresh water. For best results here, use a teaspoon of baking soda per two cups of water.
White Wine Vinegar And Water
Finally, another option is to combine equal amounts of white wine vinegar and water.
Add your strawberries to the mixture and let them soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain them well.
Rinse them under running water to remove any residue, and then enjoy or prepare as desired.
A final method involves using a salt bath to wash your strawberries.
Here, you should add water to a bowl to just cover the top of your berries, and then add a tablespoon of salt for each cup of water you have used.
Soak the berries for 15 minutes and then remove and rinse – as an added bonus, this will allow you to ensure that potential parasites and fruit fly worms are removed, leaving your strawberries hygienic.
Use A Water Rinse
One of the simplest ways to wash your berries is simply to rinse them in running water.
Add the strawberries to a colander, and run them under the cold tap for a few minutes, carefully rubbing the surface to remove any dirt.
Once clean, remove and tip onto a paper towel, and pat dry before preparing.
Strawberries are delicious, but they do need to be stored correctly to maintain their flavor and quality.
As such, it is vital that you follow the tips above when handling them – and this includes understanding the best way to wash them prior to preparation.
The options above will ensure that your strawberries are in the best possible condition for eating, and can be enjoyed by all!
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