Loved by young and old, it’s our favourite summer fruit – strawberries. The strawberry season runs from May through to summer and is synonymous with the British summer. Here we take a look at what these little beauties have to offer and how best to store them.
It might surprise you to learn that, as far back as the Stone Age, our ancestors were keen to get hold of a small-fruit variety of modern strawberries – our love affair with strawberries began a long time ago! In classical times, we see that the sweet little fruit remained very close to our hearts, earning the ‘fruit of the gods’ title from Roman poets Ovid, Pliny and Virgil. However, it wasn’t until somewhere between the 14th and 15th centuries that the small-fruit garden strawberry started to be cultivated in England and France, and not until the 17th century that the large-fruit variety was introduced to Europe from Canada. After this lengthy courtship process, and by the middle of the 18th century, the strawberry that we all know and love today finally achieved its well-deserved and widespread popularity.
Delicious and healthy
Apart from their melt-in-the-mouth seductiveness, strawberries are also a real ‘vitamin hit’, with a higher vitamin C content than either lemons or oranges; and they’re also rich in minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc. Furthermore, weighing in at about 32 kcal per 100g, strawberries are very much a low-calorie indulgence that can be enjoyed and then enjoyed some more…
Rather unexpectedly perhaps, although strawberries consist of up to 90% water, they still manage to pack quite a punch in terms of flavour. So, the remaining 10% contains the secrets of their powerful punch. It turns out that the more sun the strawberries enjoy during ripening, the greater the amount of fruit acids, fructose, and ‘aromatic substances’ i.e. the ‘secret ingredients’ that make them so tasty.
Keeping strawberries fresh for longer
It probably goes without saying that the best tasting strawberries are those eaten straight after harvesting as, even after just a few hours, they begin to lose their flavour. Once harvested, strawberries should be stored in a refrigerator as soon as possible and, for the very best results, wash them and lay them out on a tray lined with kitchen roll. In a refrigerator they will keep for 1-2 days but, if you want to enjoy your strawberries for even longer, store them in a Liebherr BioFresh compartment where they can be kept for up to 7 days. Please note: ripened strawberries are very susceptible to damage from physical pressure and moisture, both of which have a detrimental effect on flavour, nutrient content and shape, and so it is not advisable to keep strawberries for extended periods as a normal matter of course.
What to consider when freezing
Although frozen strawberries can be safely kept for up to 2 years, their appearance will inevitably suffer somewhat during the defrosting process due to their high water content. Strawberries that have been ‘re-awoken’ from the freezer are therefore not ideal for cakes or tarts where their visual appearance is important: they are best used in mousses, cheesecakes and ice cream.
Our tip: Wash the strawberries before freezing but be aware that strawberries do not like cold showers or direct jets of water. The best way to clean your strawberries is in a bowl of water. After rinsing, the strawberries should be carefully placed on a tray to dry and, only at this point, should the stalks and leaves be removed, otherwise flavour will be lost.
The herb and berry compartment offers the best storage conditions
Liebherr’s herb and berry compartment allows you to freeze strawberries perfectly: they will not stick together during freezing and they can then be easily portioned and transferred to freezer bags or containers. The strawberries should be spread out in the herb and berry compartment and allowed to freeze for around 10 to 12 hours. Traditional freezer bags or re-sealable plastic containers are suitable for subsequent storage, but these should be airtight to prevent water loss. Any strawberries with signs of mould or significant pressure damage should be removed straight away, as their presence can spoil the other fruit.
What’s your favourite way to eat strawberries? Tell us about your favourite moments of strawberry indulgence. Use the comment function below this post or join in a discussion with us on Facebook.