You run out and buy a clamshell of what you assume to be wonderful, sweet strawberries, only to get them home and find out they aren’t what you were expecting. You have a lot of recipes for strawberries, but the berries you ended up with simply are not going to do. They are too tart, not firm enough or went bad before you got them home. Here are a few tips for avoiding these pitfalls.
Pick the recipes you want to use before you go shopping. What you intend to do with the berries has an impact on what type of strawberry you should buy. While there are many varieties of strawberries, there are only three basic types of strawberry plants: June bearing, everbearing and day-neutral. Each of these have different strengths.
For sweet strawberries, buy them in June. June bearing strawberries are the best strawberries for snacking on raw. These are super sweet berries that start to hit stores in late May and are usually only available until the end of June.
Everbearing strawberries are a good all-around berry. These are available in spring and fall, but usually not in summer. They arent’ as sweet as June bearing but make a good general purpose fruit for most recipes for strawberries.
Day-neutral strawberries are available from early spring and have an excellent firmness. These require more sweetener but are better at retaining their shape in recipes like chunky ice cream and Strawberries Anna, where the form of the fruit is part of the lure.
Buy strawberries the same day you are going to use them. Strawberries don’t keep for very long. On average, you can expect them to only last 24 hours after you get them home. For best results with your recipes for strawberries, pick the best looking berries you can find the same day you intend to use them. Shiny, red berries are more important than larger berries when it comes to taste and quality.
Beware of brown mushy spots or white fungus when choosing strawberries. These are signs of decay, and strawberry decay is very contagious to other strawberries. One brown spot or bit of fungus can turn into an entire rotten package in a matter of hours. While it isn’t always possible to find a package without any bruised berries, it’s best to choose the ones with the least bruises possible. Then cut away the bruised portions as soon as you get them home.
Look on both the top and bottom of the clamshell. The clamshell is the clear plastic box most strawberries are sold in. Don’t be afraid to pick it up and turn it over to see if there is bruising or fungus on the strawberries on the bottom. Be gentle when doing this, however, since strawberries bruise easily. The last thing you want to do is find a clamshell of perfect, super sweet strawberries, then accidentally bruise them yourself.
Take them straight home instead of making stops along the way. Minimize the time the strawberries are going to spend in the hot car, which can accelerate their decay. If you have a small cooler, bring it along to put your strawberries in for the ride home. This not only helps to keep them cool, but it can also help protect them from being bumped around and bruised some more.