Strawberries are in season for such a short and sweet time. Get these red beauties now while they’re at their freshest and finest, and know this before you head out to buy them….

  1. Get them straight from the farm (or farm market). You won’t believe the difference in taste compared to the grocery store. Bonus if you take your kids for a day of strawberry picking (watch out for red-stained shirts!). Find a farm near you at pickyourown.org. 
  2. Buy them organic. Strawberries are the fruit with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list. Go for organic at the grocery store, and ask your farmer about his practices–some farms practice organic farming methods even if they’re not certified organic.
  3. Eat them for flavor–and for their powerful effect on your health. They contain these nutrients:
    • Vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important for the immune system and skin health.
    • Folate, a B vitamin that helps with normal tissue growth and cell function and is important for pregnant women and the elderly.
    • Manganese: Frequently found in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, this trace element is important for many processes in the body.
    • Potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure
  4. Make them last for a week. First, throw out any berries with white fuzzy mold–one moldy berry can taint the whole container. Then store berries in a layer of dry paper towels in the crisper drawer. The dryer you can keep ’em, the longer they’ll stay fresh.
  5. Get them squeaky clean before serving. With their seedy exteriors (they have an average of 200 seeds per fruit and are actually a member of the rose family–save that for trivia night!), strawberries are magnets for dirt and grime. Washing them under running water or with a water-vinegar spray isn’t always enough. In addition, use your fingers to gently rub each berry to dislodge–and rinse away–any yucky stuff.
  6. Freeze the leftovers. Savor the seasonal treat by buying in bulk and freezing for later (frozen berries are great for smoothies and baked goods). Lay washed berries on paper towels to dry. Then cut off the stems and freeze in a freezer-proof bag.