Strawberries for some reason only last perhaps 4 days max in the
refrigerator. Sometimes its 2 days, if you didn't get very fresh ones
to begin with. Then they start growing a whitish mold. What is it,
and can you do something (other than freezing) to prevent the growth
of this mold?
Strawberries are extremely susceptible to mold which is really evident
in the home garden if you've ever tried to grow them.
In California they (do or used to) tent the entire field before planting
and pump in a gas to kill all the mold spores. This helped to keep the
berries mold-free while they were growing, but as soon s they are picked
the mold process begins. It also makes anyone who gets exposed to it
quite sick, if not worse.
I think part of the problem at least is that when they are moved from
place to place at slightly different temperatures (field, packing house,
refrigerated truck, store cooler, store sales area) the inside of the
carton develops condensation which provides a good place for mold growth.
You might get a few more days from them if you wash, slice, and sugar
them lightly. Or spread them out on paper towels or napkins to absorb
some of the condensation.
Otherwise, buy only what you and your family can eat in 2-3 days and
carefully pick out any that might be showing mold.
I can't imagine maple being a good flavor combo with lemon, or strawberry...
I think honey would be a much better choice, but even honey doesn't work
well with strawberry.... light brown sugar, maybe. I think plain white
sugar works best to let the strawberry flavor shine through, those other
powerful flavors would smother it. Fresh lemon juice and white sugar with a
splash of cointreau would probably work best for macerating strawberries.
That method requires enough time and labor to make berry eating a chore
rather than a pleasure. I found that the shelf life of delicate fruit can
be extended by the addition of citrus, fresh lemon juice works well. Or use
some Cointreau or some good Balsamico Traditionale. The best way to ensure
that strawberries don't hang around long enough to spoil is to mix up a big
batch of whipped cream, and/or melt a big bowlful of good chocolate.
I grew up helping run a pick your own strawberry farm. As someone who
also just lost almost an ENTIRE batch of store bought berries to mold, I'm
also interested in this.
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned what is probably the most
efficient way to have your berries last longer - grow your own. The main
reason why strawberries from the store mold so fast is that they have
already been off of the plant for some time - perhaps 2 or even 3 days -
before you buy them. Strawberries are not known for lasting that long in
storage anyway, so by the time you have them in the fridge for 2 days, they
could be 5 days old already. Pick your own fresh fruits, and they will
probably last twice as long or more, and also be tastier - since they will
be more ripe when picked.
You said you don't want to consider freezing. Have you considered drying
them? I have cut up strawberries, plus made fruit leather with a convection
oven. It is very tasty, and lasts for years. You could also can the fruit.
If you want store bought for fresh eating, then I second the idea
presented earlier about cutting them up, and sloshing around some of that
lemon juice concentrate on the pieces, or even mashing them a bit and adding
lemon juice. The acidity will inhibit mold growth, and then you can add a
bit of sugar if you want when eating them.
Of course, canning is also an option, but they tend to lose some texture
from the high heat involved. Freezing is often a good option.
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