Strawberries are chock full of nutrients, with a half a cup containing 45.5 mg of vitamin C, 50 IUs of vitamin A, 164 mgs of potassium, 18 mgs of calcium and 2.3 grams of fiber – all for a measly 39 calories. Considering all of the benefits of this sweet, versatile berry, including anti-inflammatory flavonoids and the possible prevention against certain types of cancer, it's a boost having them on hand. Unfortunately, strawberries do not have a very long shelf life and must be used within seven days optimally, less if they've been washed or cut, as the water causes them to grow mold or spoil. If you've already washed and cut your berries, there are a few things you can do to keep them fresh and edible.
Discard any bruised, mushy, moldy or yellow pieces of strawberry. Make sure all parts of the green stem and leaf are tossed and not saved with the rest of the berries.
Dry washed berries with a clean paper towel. Remove as much moisture as possible to discourage mold growth and prevent spoilage.
Put the cut berries in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Place the container with the berries into the crisper section of the refrigerator set to 40 F or below, within two hours of cutting them. Discard after two days.
To keep berries fresh longer than two days, freeze them. Follow the above directions for drying the clean, cut berries.
Store berries in an airtight freezer container or plastic freezer bag, labeled with the date. Leave a half an inch of headspace for plastic containers.
Add three-quarters of a cup of sugar to each quart of frozen berries, if desired. Mix thoroughly.
Freeze berries for eight to 12 months at 0 F or below.
Adding sugar to frozen berries not only preserves color, but also the berries' sweet taste. Unsweetened berries that are frozen lose their fresh quality quicker than those preserved with sugar.
You can also add artificial sweeteners to strawberries, either before they are frozen or after they are thawed; however, artificial sweeteners do not have the preservative qualities of sugar.
Strawberries, like all fresh produce can harbor dangerous bacteria or pathogens, such as salmonella or E.coli, which can make you seriously ill. Wash all strawberries thoroughly under cool water, drain and pat dry before eating.