One of the best things about summer in Canada is the strawberries!  It is a sign that summer is truly here and a delight that can be a part of every meal.  Strawberries on cereal or waffles for breakfast, in salads for lunch, and strawberries and cream for dinner’s desert.

Strawberries are good for heart health as they contain polyphenols that can aid in preventing type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties and a low glycemic index, which helps regulated blood sugar and help with weight management.

You do not need a special reason to eat strawberries (which are not actually a berry but a fruit) but there a few things you need to be careful of before you eat them.

Strawberries are very delicate so they are harvested by hand and not washed as throughly as other fruits or vegetables.  Fresh strawberries are often taken directly from harvest to retail without being washed.  The fruit is so close to the ground that it can pick up bacteria, mould, and viruses often found in soil or through faecal contamination.   The rougher outer texture of the fruit is also conducive to viruses like Hepatitis A and Norovirus.  Strawberries are also known for high exposure to pesticides.  It is for all these reasons that it’s very important to wash the strawberries before eating them.

Strawberries are best when washed immediately before you eat them.  Washing them ahead of time and having them sit around wet can lead to soft mushy and moldy berries.  Store them dry in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.

As far as washing them, you have a few options.

1.  Simply run them under cold water to wash away any dirt or grit.  Pat them dry and eat.

2.  If you are more concerned about bacteria or mold, use vinegar.  The acid in the vinegar will help kill off bacteria and mold spores.   Soak the berries in a mild white vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) in a large bowl or container. Let them soak for about 5 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly in a colander and place on a towel to dry.

3. You can also wash the berries in hot water to destroy bacteria and mold.  Heat water to about 125F and soak your berries in the water for about 30 seconds.  This will kill the bacteria without damaging or cooking the strawberries.

4. Soak berries in a baking soda solution (1 teaspoon baking soda to 2 cups of cold water) for 15 minutes.  Remove and let thoroughly dry.  This will kill off any bacteria or mold.

One of the key things about enjoying strawberries is to keep them dry.  If you wash them and do not use them right away, dry them off completely before you store them in an air tight container with paper towels to absorb any additional moisture.