Selecting and Storing Strawberries
Harvest strawberries by gently snapping the stem from the plant. Take care to avoid bruising the fruit. Cool the freshly picked berries as soon as possible after harvesting and store the fruit in the refrigerator until use. The optimum storage temperature for strawberries in the home is 32 to 36 degrees. The optimum humidity for storage of berries to prevent water loss and shriveling is 90-95 percent. Store the fruit in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Do not wash berries until just before eating or preserving. Washing will add moisture and will cause the berries to spoil more rapidly. Strawberries can only be stored for up to seven days under optimum conditions and that shelf life also depends on how ripe the fruit was when picked or purchased. To wash, rinse strawberries thoroughly under cool running water, drain in a clean strainer, and pat dry with a clean paper towel. For maximum cleaning, gently rub each berry under running water.
Washing strawberries in a sink filled with water is not recommended since the standing water can spread contamination from one berry to another. The use of soap or detergent is not recommended or approved for washing fruits and vegetables because the produce can absorb detergent residues.
Strawberries may be frozen whole, sliced, crushed, or pureed, depending on their intended use in recipes. Rigid plastic containers and canning jars make good freezer containers. Frozen whole strawberries are best served with a few ice crystals still remaining – if thawed completely, the berries will be mushy. Syrup and sugar packs produce higher quality frozen strawberries with a better flavor and texture, than berries packed without sweetening.