Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Strawberries

HYG-5531
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/30/2021
Revised 2021: Lisa Barlage, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Revised 2010: Julie Kennel Shertzer, Program Specialist, Human Nutrition
Original reviewer: Lydia C. Medeiros, PhD, RD, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, and Richard C. Funt, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension
Original author: Barbara H. Drake, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Strawberries are often the first fruits to ripen in the spring and are grown in every state in the United States. They are one of the most popular small fruits to grow in home gardens. Some varieties, if managed well, may produce a good crop by mid-summer of the planting year and can last five to seven years before needing replacement.

For information on strawberry varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.

Selection

  • Strawberries should have a full red color, bright luster, and firm, plump flesh.Close up of strawberry with strawberries out of focus in the background.
  • Strawberries do not ripen after being picked, so choose fully ripe and fragrant berries. 
  • The caps should be bright green, fresh looking, and fully attached.
  • Berries should be dry and clean. Medium to small berries usually have better eating quality than large ones.
  • Avoid berries with large uncolored or seedy areas or those with a dull, soft look.
  • Visually check packaging, making sure there are no signs of mold growth. If even one berry is molded, mold spores will have traveled throughout the entire package. Research has linked mold to some forms of cancer—always avoid moldy berries. 

Yield

Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.

  • 1½ pounds = 1 quart
  • 1 quart = 4 cups hulled, sliced strawberries

Nutrition

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends around 2 cups of fruits per day as part of a healthy diet. Strawberries are a great source for fulfilling this nutritional requirement and are an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. 

One cup of unsweetened berries provides:

  • 50 calories.
  • 11 grams of carbohydrate.
  • 3 grams of fiber.
  • more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C.

Storage

  • Take berries home immediately after purchase and store in the refrigerator.
  • Consume strawberries within one to three days.
  • Wash only as many berries as you intend to eat or prepare at that time. Wash them in gently flowing cool water in a colander. Drain and remove caps by giving them an easy twist with a strawberry huller or sharp knife. Do not soak berries in water, they will lose color and flavor. Do not use soap, dish detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the fruit.
  • When you have too many strawberries to use right away, freeze them!  Wash, dry and hull the berries. Spread a single layer on shallow trays and place in freezer (lining pans with parchment paper will prevent sticking). Once frozen, package in freezer safe containers, label and return to freezer. This pack allows portions to be used when needed.

Serving 

  • Strawberries are a great snack.
  • Strawberries are a great ingredient for a smoothie.
  • Slice strawberries and mix them into a salad of greens, mushrooms, red onions, toasted almonds, grilled chicken, and low-fat dressing.
  • Use as a natural topping for pancakes or waffles.
  • Add sliced berries to water for a refreshing taste twist.
  • Make a fruit pizza with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and other fruits.
  • Use strawberries to make a fruit salsa for dipping or to top your favorite grilled meat.

Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam

Yield: 4 jars of jam

Ingredients

  • 1 quart of strawberries (about 1? cups)
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant pectin

Preparation Instructions

  1. Wash strawberries in a colander immediately before using. Do not soak berries. 
  2. Remove the caps. Carve out and discard bruised spots with a paring knife, if needed. 
  3. Thoroughly crush berries using a potato masher, food processor, clean hands, etc. 
  4.  Add ⅔ cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of instant pectin to a large bowl. Stir to mix.
  5. Measure strawberries using liquid measuring cup. Add crushed strawberries to bowl.
  6. Stir for 3 minutes. Ladle jam into clean freezer jars leaving ½-inch from the top of the juice to the top of the jar rim.
  7. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Anything on the rim might prevent the jar from closing properly.
  8. Turn or press lids on freezer containers until tight. Let jam stand 30 minutes to set.
  9. Label jars with contents and date. Enjoy now, refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year.

For information on preserving strawberries, contact your local OSU Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

FoodData Central. n.d. U.S. Department of Agriculture (website), accessed July 29, 2021. fdc.nal.usda.gov.

Heilig, Gary. 2013. “Selecting strawberry varieties for your garden.” Michigan State University Extension. canr.msu.edu/news/selecting_strawberry_varieties_for_your_garden.

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed July 29, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

University of Illinois Extension. n.d. “Selection & Care.” Strawberries & More. Accessed July 29, 2021. web.extension.illinois.edu/strawberries/selection.cfm.