An Obvious but Helpful Primer on Prepping Strawberries

published Jun 1, 2017
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

It’s early June, which means one thing: Strawberry season is here! This time of year, I can’t get enough of these deeply flavored, rich berries. I love them so much, I can barely wait until I get home from the farmers market to gobble them up — but I know that to truly get the most out of my berry haul, they need a little bit of prep work.

You’ve probably done this before, but a quick refresher never hurt.

Step 1: Store your strawberries.

If you plan to use the whole basket immediately, jump down to step two. Otherwise, remember that storing berries properly is the key to helping them last as long as possible. Depending on when they’ll be used, strawberries can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.

  • Room temperature: Store strawberries at room temperature when using them the same day you brought them home.
  • Refrigerator: Store whole, unwashed strawberries in a partially closed container lined with paper towels in the crisper drawer for five to seven days.
  • Freezer: If you have more berries than you’ll eat or use in a few days, your best bet is to store them in the freezer.

Step 2: Wash your strawberries.

Of course, you’ll want to wash the berries as you’re ready to eat them, but there’s one important caveat: Wash only the berries you plan to eat or use. Strawberries are like sponges, so once wet, they soak up every bit of moisture, making them more likely to get mushy and moldy faster.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Step 3: Remove the stems.

Unless you’re eating berries out of hand (in which case, hold on to the stem and bite right in), the stem needs to go. There are two ways to get this done: hulling and slicing.

  • Hulling: Use a strawberry huller or paring knife to remove the leafy green top and pale flesh directly beneath.
  • Slicing: You can also use a paring knife to slice off the top of the leafy green stem. You lose a little bit of the berry this way, but it’s fast and convenient, especially if you’re working with a lot of berries at once.

A Boozy Use for Berry Stems

Even though you can’t eat berry stems, they’re still plenty useful. Instead of sending them to the compost or trash, use the tops to make strawberry-infused booze. Add the strawberry tops to a Mason jar, cover with vodka or gin, and let the mixture sit for about two days. Then strain and enjoy your pink-hued booze with a hint of berry flavor.

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