Preparing Strawberries for Consumption: Cleaning Instructions

You have just returned home with a bucket of strawberries that you picked yourself from your own garden, a local farmer's market, or a U-pick farm. You're probably daydreaming about the delicious strawberry dishes and treats you'll create, or you might be daydreaming about just eating the whole bowlful.

You should wash those juicy berries thoroughly before eating them. Strawberry cleaning is not a particularly difficult task. There's a good chance you already have everything you'll need in your kitchen.

Find out why it's so important to wash strawberries before eating them, how to clean them properly, and when you should do it.

Know these things about cleaning and washing strawberries before you waste a single cup of water on them. Take into account the following advice

Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the strawberries to prevent the spread of germs from your kitchen, your reusable shopping bags, or your market totes.

Toss out any mushy berries as you clean the rest. Soft berries could be breeding grounds for germs, insects, and mold. Check for signs of bruising or minor cuts on berries if you aren't going to eat them right away (washing them to store). Any kind of damage to the berries will speed up the mold growth, and it will spread rapidly to other strawberries in the area.

Capable of soaking up liquids, strawberries Mould and decay are invited into the soft fruits by the presence of water. The best time to wash berries is right before you use them in a recipe. Dry the berries and their stems completely if you wash them early.

Avoid using soap, detergent, or commercial produce washes, as they may spread germs. This is recommended by the CDC. Similarly, you shouldn't clean food with bleach or disinfectants. More chemicals may be left behind after using these products than are taken away.

Southern Living / Courtney West

You should always wash strawberries before eating or cooking with them, regardless of whether you have a quart from the grocery store, a handful from your backyard, or two buckets from the local farm. Strawberries, and all other produce, should be washed before consumption to remove dirt, bacteria, and insects. There may also be traces of pesticides in the food from when it was grown. Ingesting it could make you sick from the pesticides and the bacteria.

Because of this, strawberries require thorough cleaning before being consumed or used in a recipe. Here are the four most typical approaches to washing strawberries. You can choose whichever method you like best, as long as it produces the desired results (or uses readily available ingredients).

Credit: Courtney West / Southern Living

Strawberry cleaning with just water is a tried and true method. It's the quickest, too.

Rinse the strawberries under cold running water for several minutes, then drain them in a colander. The best way to remove any lingering dirt from your strawberries is to rub your hand over them gently.

To dry the strawberries, take them out of the colander. You can eat the strawberries raw, or you can use them in one of our delicious recipes, like our Strawberry Vanilla Cake.

Southern Living / Courtney West

Vinegar, though modest in appearance, is a masterful cleaning and cooking agent. All of your appliances, from the microwave to the dishwasher, will shine after using this product.

It is also safe enough to use on delicate fruits like strawberries, and it can remove any pesticides or other chemicals that may have accumulated on the skins of the berries.

If you want to clean strawberries with vinegar, first rinse them in a colander under running water to get rid of any larger bits of dirt. Next, fill a large bowl or bucket with four cups of water and one cup of white distilled vinegar. Repeatedly dunking the berries into the water-vinegar bath while gently stirring the water with your hand will help the berries release their natural sugars.

Toss the berries into the vinegar and let them sit for 5-10 minutes. In the water, you might find some worms, larval flies, or tiny spiders. In general, that is the case A vinegar bath is an effective method for getting rid of any pests, like the saltwater bath, that may have made strawberries their home.

Transfer the strawberries to a colander and fill it with cold water. Let them sit there for five to ten minutes. They won't have time to soak up any vinegar taste, and the final rinse will remove any remaining vinegar from the berries' skins. Dry thoroughly and use right away in cooking or eating.

Southern Living / Courtney West

Another time-honored cleaner, baking soda, can be used in place of vinegar if necessary. Based on the results of one study, baking soda is preferable to regular water or bleach for washing away pesticides from hard surfaces.

In order to prepare strawberries for cleaning with baking soda, first rinse them in a colander. To remove the soil, rinse the berries under cold running water and rub them gently between your hands. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with two cups of water. The berries need to be soaked for five minutes in water.

After that amount of time has passed, transfer the strawberries to a colander and give them a good, long rinse under cold running water. The berries should be eaten or cooked right away after being patted dry.

Spiders, flies, and worms have been known to make temporary homes in strawberries. See, the soil is involved, and there are bugs all around. It happens Soak strawberries in a saltwater solution before eating or cooking them to drive out the tiny creepy crawlers you might find there.

In a mixing bowl, combine three teaspoons of salt with three cups of warm water (or as much water as needed, using the teaspoon per cup ratio). The water needs to cool down completely. Berry preparation then requires a five-minute soak in the cooled water.

Remove the strawberries to a colander after the allotted time has passed. Be sure to give the berries a good, long soak in cold running water. Completely pat dry Salt dissolves quickly in water, so the berries won't take on any of the salt during their brief soak. Any remaining salt on the berry skins will be washed away in the final rinse.

If you're going to eat or cook with strawberries, you shouldn't wash them first. Why Strawberry washing before storage leads to moldy, mushy fruit. Water on the skin of fresh berries causes them to deteriorate quickly.

You can wash berries right up until you put them in the fridge, but if you do, make sure you pat both the berries and the green stems dry before storing them. As much water as possible needs to be extracted. If you wash the berries before putting them in the fridge, they won't last as long as if you didn't touch them until right before eating.

Strawberries are highly permeable, meaning that they take in all of the chemicals and pesticides used to keep them healthy and shiny. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticides based on testing by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) each year, and strawberries consistently rank at or near the top of this Dirty Dozen list.

To protect their soft berries from pests, even organic berry farmers resort to chemical methods. Cleaning strawberries thoroughly before eating them is a good idea because it reduces the likelihood that any harmful substances will be left behind.

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