It’s summertime. That means fruit salads, fresh berries, and strawberry shortcake galore. You can find strawberries in plenty in your local grocery and farmers market, but no matter how fresh you get them, berries always seem to go bad after a few days at home. It doesn’t seem to matter how quickly you eat them, there always tend to be a few leftovers in the carton turning fuzzy and slimy
Luckily, however, farmers have finally offered up some advice on how to keep strawberries fresh for longer (1)! Learn this simple technique quick and you’ll never have to face a smelly, mushy, half-rotten carton of strawberries again (2).
Why Do Strawberries Rot So Quick?
Strawberries are one of the summer’s finest fruits. It’s long-awaited, excitedly sought-after, and delightedly indulged in–but unfortunately, it’s one of the most difficult fruits to keep fresh. There’s something about this ground-dwelling plant that makes them difficult to keep delicious after harvesting. While on the vine, they are easily accessible to insects, but also to any and all bacteria that dwell above the soil. Strawberries are extremely susceptible to disease and fungi, so even when you wash away dust and dirt, you might be leaving behind a more destructive evil.
These lingering bacteria and fungi can turn your beautiful supply of bright, happy strawberries into miserable, squishy messes overnight.
This means that you not only need to rinse off the dirt, but you also need to disinfect your strawberries!
How Do I Disinfect A Strawberry?
While it might sound like a daunting, even possibly toxic task, disinfecting your strawberries is much easier (and safer) than cleaning your house. You simply need to grab a few things that are most likely already in your kitchen:
- A large bowl (or bucket)
- A strainer (colander, salad spinner, steamer, etc)
- Vinegar (3)
- Clean, filtered water
- Paper towels
- Clean container with breathing holes
- As many strawberries as you desire
Now, this won’t be hard at all. You start by placing as many strawberries as you want (or will fit) in your large bowl. You want to be sure they don’t surpass the top of the bowl because you’re going to be submerging all of the berries. You want to be sure your bowl is big enough to hold both berries and liquid.
Next, mix 1 part vinegar with 5 parts water to the bowl. For instance, if you use 1 cup of vinegar, you want to add 5 cups of water. Be sure to completely cover the strawberries. Strawberries sometimes have a tendency to float, so if this happens, you can either weigh them down or give the bowl a few good stirs.
You want every berry to soak in the water and vinegar mixture for three to five minutes at the very least. Since vinegar is a natural and potent disinfection, letting the strawberries sit in the mixture will allow the bacteria and fungi to be rinsed off and killed (1). Don’t worry about the berries tasting like vinegar afterward–it’ll wash off easily (4).
Once the berries have soaked for a satisfactory amount of time, strain the liquid out and shake off as much excess water as possible. You want the strawberries to be as dry as possible since the liquid is another cause of rotten strawberries. Moisture is the perfect place for fungi and bacteria to find a home, so you want to use the paper towels to dry your strawberries–or, lay them out so they can properly air dry.
Again, make sure the berries are perfectly dry before placing them in a container and refrigerating them.
Strawberries are a significant mark on summertime. Keeping them fresher for longer will only increase your pleasure in eating them, and save you from throwing out untold amounts of wasted strawberries. Just remember to keep them clean, disinfected, and dry. Then enjoy your summer!