Use strawberries as soon after harvesting or purchasing as possible. Refrigerator storage does not improve the quality of fresh strawberries. Berries should not be left at room temperature for more than a few hours.
- Warm temperatures cause a browning effect in strawberries. The pigments that make strawberries red, anthocyanin, are heat sensitive. They break apart and turn brown when exposed to heat. Strawberries also lose heat-sensitive Vitamin C during browning, heating and cooking.
Store unwashed berries loosely covered with plastic wrap in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to three days at most.
- Do not wash berries until ready to use.
To wash, place berries in a colander and rinse under cold running water.
- Do not allow berries to set in water as they will lose color and flavor.
- After washing, remove the green cap with a plastic-tipped vegetable peeler or paring knife without removing any of the fruit.
Look for bright red berries with fresh green caps on. When you remove the caps, you tear cells in the berries, activating ascorbic acid oxidase, an enzyme that destroys Vitamin C.
Visually check each package, making sure there are no signs of mold growth. If one berry is molded, mold spores will have traveled throughout the entire package. Research has linked mold to some forms of cancer, always avoid moldy berries.
When purchasing strawberries by the pound, one-and-a-half pounds equal one quart. This will yield about four cups of sliced strawberries.