Fresh Florida strawberries are available from December through April — just when some other strawberry-producing areas are dormant. Fresh Florida strawberries (known as winter strawberries) are prefect for holiday entertaining and are in supermarkets well past Valentine’s Day. Chocolate dipped strawberries anyone?
When shopping for strawberries, select those that are firm, plump, and fragrant and have a bright glossy red appearance. Their fringed caps should be bright green and look fresh. Look for structural integrity.
Berries should be firm, but not crunchy. Avoid bruised or shriveled berries or those having a dull appearance.
Strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested. Select fruit that’s at the right state of maturity — when the berry surface is fully red. This fruit will offer the maximum sweetness and flavor. Cool berries as soon as possible and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It comes as no surprise that fresh strawberries are highly perishable. Use them as soon as possible after purchasing for the best flavor, appearance and nutrient content. Fresh strawberries should be refrigerated and eaten within three to four days of purchase.
The perfect storage temperature for strawberries is 32 to 36 degrees. Store the fruit in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Strawberries packaged in closed plastic clamshell containers may be stored in their containers or fruit may be stored in a partially opened plastic bag to maintain high humidity. Strawberries can only be stored for up to seven days under optimum conditions. Keep in mind that shelf-life depends on how ripe the fruit was when purchased or picked.
Strawberry flavor is at its best at room temperature. Remove the berries from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving. To help berries retain flavor, texture and nutrients, avoid washing or removing their caps until ready for use. Remove the green caps with a light twisting motion or with the point of a paring knife. It’s as easy as a twist of the wrist.