Ingredient Intelligence

The Very Best Way to Clean Strawberries

published Apr 30, 2022
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Strawberries in plastic clamshell container.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

If you were drafting your list of the MVPs of fruits, I’d bet that strawberries would be at the top. This vibrant and flavorful fruit is tastiest and juiciest during the summer months when it’s in season, although even out-of-season strawberries can be delicious in recipes like  strawberry cupcakes, strawberry-rhubarb pie, strawberry poundcake, and strawberry lemonade.

When you pick up a pint or two of fresh strawberries  rom your local farmers market or grocery store, you’ll need to take a couple steps to make sure they’re in great shape for eating out of hand or making delicious treats like strawberry shortcake. Although you might be tempted to snack on some right out of the container, you should make sure your strawberries have been properly washed to remove any dirt, pesticides, and tiny bugs.

Read on for expert advice on how to make sure your strawberries are clean and ready to eat or cook with. (If you are not planning to eat them right away, here’s how to properly store your strawberries)

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

How to Clean Strawberries

While simply rinsing strawberries under cool running water is an easy option, the very best way to clean strawberries is by soaking them briefly in a mixture of salt and water, says Eleana Kaidanian, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and fitness expert. Using about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per cup of water, soak strawberries in a large bowl of salted cold water for five minutes. Then, transfer the berries to a colander and rinse under cool running water for about a minute.

Salt has abrasive qualities that can be used to literally scrub away surface dirt or contaminants,” says Kaidanian. These lightly abrasive qualities mean that salt water cleans better than water alone. Kaidanian says this combo is also great because it’s sustainable, cheap, and easy, and doesn’t alter the flavor of the berries.

While some sources recommend using baking soda or distilled white vinegar to clean strawberries, Kaidanian says it’s better to keep things simple with salt. “Baking soda or other cleaning agents can absorb into the soft skin of the fruit and not wash off completely,” says Kaidanian — and this could compromise the flavor and texture of your food.

More on Cleaning Strawberries

Another tip: Because berries go bad very quickly once they are exposed to moisture, only wash as many as you plan to use. “If you do want to wash them all to keep in the fridge ready to eat, you must completely dry them before storing to keep them from turning as quickly,” says Kaidanian. You can dry strawberries by laying them out on a baking sheet lined with clean paper towels or a kitchen towel. Gently but thoroughly press the tops and sides of the berries to remove excess water before storing them in the fridge.

Try Some of Our Favorite Strawberry Recipes