- Strawberries should be thoroughly cleaned to remove pesticides and bacteria.
- Wait to clean strawberries until you plan to eat them to help keep their structure.
- Strawberries can be washed in a vinegar or saltwater solution.
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Strawberries are a versatile fruit, whether you’re looking for a quick snack or dressing up a dessert. But before you dive in on eating a handful, it’s important to thoroughly clean the popular berry.
Strawberries rank at the top of the Dirty Dozen List released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) each year. That first-place ranking means strawberries contain higher levels of pesticides than other fruits and vegetables.
“Most people don’t realize that strawberries have sponge-like capabilities, which means they can easily absorb pesticides and bacteria,” says Andrea Mathis, MA, RDN, LD, registered dietitian nutritionist and the owner of Beautiful Eats & Things. “To avoid ingesting any of these potentially harmful components, it is very important to wash your strawberries before consuming them.”
To remove dirt, pesticides, and bacteria, soaking strawberries in a vinegar solution or a saltwater bath will ensure they’re clean and safe to eat.
When to clean strawberries
It’s best to wash strawberries right before you plan to use them rather than when you get home from the grocery store.
“Because added moisture will cause strawberries to go bad very quickly, they should only be washed if you are going to eat them immediately,” notes Mathis. Washing them ahead of time will only cause the structure of the fruit to begin breaking down faster.
How to wash strawberries with vinegar
If you’ve ever used vinegar as a cleaning agent in your kitchen, you know how powerful it can be. And the same goes for using it to wash strawberries.
According to Mathis, cleaning strawberries with vinegar will only take about five minutes.
Start by filling a bowl with four-parts cold water to one-part white vinegar. “Submerge the strawberries in the vinegar bath and let them sit for about five minutes before rinsing the strawberries in cold water,” she says. Once the berries are washed, gently pat them dry with a towel or paper towel. Because the ratio of vinegar to water is low, the clean berries won’t have any vinegar taste to them.
How to wash strawberries with salt
Another quick and easy option to rid strawberries of pesticides and bacteria is washing them with salt. This method will also draw out any fruit fly larvae, or tiny white worms, that may be hiding inside the berries.
Mathis suggests combining eight cups of warm water and 2 ½ tablespoons of any type of salt in a large bowl. Allow the salt to dissolve, and let the water cool before adding in the strawberries. Soak the strawberries in the salt bath for about five minutes before rinsing them with cool water and patting them dry. Rinsing the berries will get rid of any lingering salt residue.
While strawberries can make for a quick snack, it’s crucial to wash them before taking a bite. Strawberries consistently top the Dirty Dozen list due to the prevalence of pesticides. Washing strawberries in a vinegar solution or a saltwater bath will ensure cleanliness before digging in.