Sunday, May 15, 2016

Slice and Dice: Strawberries

Strawberries laid on a tray
A few years ago, I landed a plot in my local community garden. Eager to create a sanctuary for myself in the city, I filled the tiny space with tomato plants, bell peppers, thyme, sage, parsley, and jalapeños at my mom’s insistence. Contented with my efforts, I cooed over the seedlings until I noticed a small patch of grasshopper-green plants in a neighboring plot. Their deeply grooved leaves sat close to the ground. Having picked strawberries for many summers as a child, I knew that dainty white flowers would soon appear among the leaves and that the blossoms would morph into glossy, red berries. I kicked myself for forgetting to plant them. I soon realized it would take an acre of land to satisfy my craving for the cushy, floral fruit, and I headed to the market where they were already on display.

An alluring shade of red, strawberries waken all the senses. Dress them up with chocolate or eat them straight off the stem. A cup of the berries exceeds the recommended daily dose of vitamin C; the tiny seeds that polka-dot the outer skin provide fiber. The sinfully delicious fruit also contains an infusion of antioxidants, which guard against heart disease. So take the time to enjoy the exquisite fruit.

How to Select Strawberries

Strawberries stop ripening after they are picked. So select red berries without any green or white patches. They should be glossy, plump, and free of soft spots. According to The Environmental Working Group, strawberries are among the foods that have the most pesticide residue. So opt for organic.

How to Store Strawberries

Strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Leave the stems intact and lay the unwashed berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Pick out any moldy fruit to keep mold from spreading. Place the berries in the refrigerator uncovered. Wash and hull the strawberries before devouring them. 

To freeze: If you plan to store strawberries for more than three days, it’s best to freeze them. It takes very little effort! 

Wash the berries and hull them by slicing off their green caps.

Slicing off the strawberry tops
Lay them on a paper towel to dry. 

Strawberries laid on a paper towel

Lay the berries on a cookie sheet lined with a fresh paper towel and place them in the freezer. 

Frozen strawberries on a tray

When the berries are frozen, transfer them to freezer bags or a freezer-safe storage container. Store them in the freezer.

Frozen strawberries in a bag
Frozen strawberries sealed in a bag

How to Prepare Strawberries

To slice: Wash the berries. Lay a berry on its side and slice off the green cap. Hold the wide end of the berry with one hand. With a paring knife in the other hand, slice the berry widthwise, starting at the tip.(If you prefer, you can slice strawberries lengthwise from side to side for teardrop-like slices.)

To chop: Wash the berries. Lay a berry on its side and slice off the green cap. Using a paring or chef's knife, slice the berry in half lengthwise. Slice each half down the middle lengthwise. Line the cut pieces up together lengthwise. Cut them widthwise starting at their narrowest ends. Run a knife across the cut pieces to finely chop.

Slicing strawberries widthwise

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