Growing up in southern California we would start getting strawberries as early as February and they’d carry on into the summer. I grew up in the mountains of southern California where the “soil” was actually a porous gray mess of decomposed granite that had very little growth value and required a lot of amendment in order to cultivate a garden. Despite valiant efforts by mom to cultivate the vegetable gardens of her past, the only thing that managed to thrive was a large patch of strawberries. In June and July we could sometimes pick up to 4-6 pints of strawberries at a time if we beat the chipmunks to them! They weren’t as large as the commercially grown berries but they were ripe, sweet and delicious through and through.
Dad traveled a lot for work which often took him through the strawberry growing region of Ventura, Oxnard, and Camarillo. Quite often he’d bring home entire flats of berries that would perfume the entire car by the time he got home. An entire flat of berries…12 pints of luscious juicy plump berries was truly a sight to behold. As beautiful as it was, it also meant a bit of work to keep them in great condition.
Left in their basket or plastic clam-shell containers, strawberries will have a limited life in your refrigerator. The green plastic pint baskets tend to cut into the sides of the berries, particularly if they’re especially ripe. The plastic clamshell containers provide more protection but they also allow for moisture and condensation to build up and cause them to spoil more quickly.
Selecting & Storing Strawberries
- When selecting strawberries, as with most fruits, let your nose be your guide. The more aromatic the berries are, the riper they’ll be.
- Look for plump berries that are bright and not dull looking and double check for any that might be overly ripe and starting to spoil.
- Pick over the berries, discarding any that are are spoiled. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
- Using a strawberry huller or paring knife, pinch and take out the cap and the interior white “hull”.
- Place berries upside down on a clean kitchen towel and allow to drip and air-dry (pat lightly with a paper towel if necessary to blot up any excess moisture). Place the berries in an airtight Tupperware or similar container and refrigerate. Separate the softer berries and put them on the top of the others so that they will be eaten first and not crushed under the others.
With this small but important advance preparation, I’ve been able to keep strawberries in great condition for up to 7-10 days! Even better…they’re ready to open up and pop in your mouth for a great quick sweet treat!