Food waste is ‘berry bad

The weather is getting warmer and summer is just a shy month or so away, you know what that means… strawberry season is upon us!

Those luscious and bright red berries are so sweet, and it’s got just the right hint of tang. Add that healthy dose of anti-oxidents, who could resist! They literally come in all shapes and sizes, and I have often found the stranger they look the sweeter they become. Unfortunately, misshapen strawberries are a fact of life but luckily, they taste no less sweeter than the perfectly symmetrical ones.

What Causes Deformed Strawberries?

what causes deformed strawberriesNubbins and button strawberries are caused by external, usually damaging agents. Feeding by plant bugs, cold injury to nutrients deficiencies  can cause deformed strawberries to form.  Additionally, inadequate pollination and high temperatures can result in poorly formed strawberries.

mutant strawberriesThe other type of deformed strawberries have a cockscomb or fasciated appearance, hence their name.  They generally look like several strawberries have fused and grown together as a single fruit. This deformity is usually caused by either short daylight intervals or cold, dry weather.

Misshapen strawberries are safe to eat.

To spot truly spoiled strawberries, look for splotches on the exterior. You can also press a few of the strawberries with your index finger; the texture should be firm but give slightly to the pressure. Overripe strawberries are mushy, they are still fine to eat within a day and are best to use them in recipes. If the berry has gone bad it will often have a rotten odor and you should discard them right away. Strawberry mold often start out looking white, then progresses to a light greenish grey colour.

Strawberries are so versatile in the kitchen and knowing how to store them can dramatically reduce unnecessary wastage. They are also very delicate fruits, they are similar to a sponge in the sense that they will absorb absolutely everything! Some of the main causes of spoilage is if they come into contact with dirty water or equipment during harvesting; unhygienic handling of strawberries can also easily spread disease within the fruit.

STORAGE TIPS

  • Keep your strawberries dry and only wash before eating them. Strawberries soak up every bit of moisture which makes them more likely to get mushy, spoil faster, and get moldy quicker.
  • Keep stems intact until you eat them to prolong shelf life
  • Old can spread easily so if you notice a moody strawberry or two in a container, remove them from the rest

If you don’t plan on eating your strawberries the day you bring them home, then refrigerate them. It is highly recommended you remove them from the original container, and store them whole and unwashed in a partially-closed container lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture, preferably in a single layer so they don’t get crushed. They should stay fresh for up to 7 days.

To keep strawberries for a longer period, you can freeze them. Remove the stems, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid. You can store them in an airtight container or tiptop freezer bag. Frozen strawberries are great as you can throw them into any smoothie, oats or any baking recipes like muffins or cupcakes. We might just share some of our favourite recipes in the coming week!

-VS

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