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Keeping strawberries fresh

I've been caught many times with red-stained fingers and strawberry juice on my face. There's nothing like going out to a berry patch for some fresh picking.

Karen Blakeslee is a food scientist at Kansas State University. She says after you pick strawberries, sort through them and toss any that have mold. If you're going to eat the berries right away, remove the stems and quickly rinse them under cold water. Rub off any stubborn dirt, and pat the berries dry on paper towels so they don't become waterlogged in order to prevent spoilage. Strawberries that will be used later should not be washed. The best place to put them is in the refrigerator.

"Put them in a plastic bag or some kind of closed container, actually something that's got a little bit of breathing with it, that'll help, but you want to keep some humidity in there so they don't dry out. Put them in the fruit and vegetable drawer in your refrigerator and that'll help keep them from getting dried out, too."

Strawberries stored properly in the 'fridge might last a week, but Blakeslee says it's best to use them within two-or-three-days. Berries that are over-ripe or bruised won't last as long.

Don't let strawberries sit on the kitchen counter for longer than a day-or-two because this will speed up spoilage. If you can't use them right away, pop them into the freezer.

"It's very simple, just wash them, take the stems off, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and freeze them like that. Once they're froze, put them in a freezer package like a freezer bag and that way they won't get stuck together," says Blakeslee. "You really don't have to put sugar on them, and that way you've got straight strawberries and then you can do whatever you want to with them once you're ready to use them."

Strawberries can be left in the freezer for up to six-months.

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