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A&E >  Food

Handle Ripe Strawberries With Care

By The Charlotte Observer

Like many pleasures, strawberries are delicate. It’s worth taking the time to handle them right.

Whether you pick your own strawberries or buy them, take care not to crush them. Spread them in a single layer - or no more than two deep - and cover them lightly with plastic wrap, then refrigerate them. Plan to use them within a few days.

Don’t wash strawberries until just before you use them. And don’t hull them until after you wash them.

To freeze whole, unsweetened berries, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until hard, then transfer to resealable plastic bags or freezer containers.

For the best quality, try the syrup-packed method: Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until sugar dissolves. Cool. Put 1 cup of stemmed, sliced or whole berries in a pint-size freezer bag and cover with about 1/2 cup syrup. Seal bags and freeze in a single layer.

How many to buy? Follow these guidelines: 1 pint basket of berries yields about 3-1/4 cups whole berries, 2-1/4 cups sliced strawberries or 1-2/3 cups pureed strawberries. One cup whole berries is about 4 ounces.

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