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Strawberries. Summertime. Saved by the Bell. Good things never last.
I like to stock up on strawberries when they are $0.99 per pound, but prices usually range from $1.99-$3.49 per pound, with organic berries selling closer to $5.00 per pound. Whether protecting your $5 organic investment or rationalizing the eight pounds of $0.99 strawberries you just bought on impulse, extending the life of your berries and avoiding waste is like finding loose cash in the laundry–freakin’ awesome.
So, last week I hit Pinterest and read about a water/vinegar wash scheme. And skeptical me was thinking:
1. Does this really make berries last longer?
2. Don’t the berries taste like vinegar?
I tried it out, and I’m here to report and walk you through the process and results. Ready? Let’s do this.
My Pretty Test Subjects
I’m not gonna lie. I think I paid $2.50 a pound for these beauties. Peak season is still another week or two away.
Mix 3 Parts Water to 1 Part Vinegar
Repeat that to yourself: three parts water, one part vinegar. For the mathematically challenged, that’s like 6 cups of water and two cups of vinegar for a total of 8 cups of liquid. Most of the “recipes” I found on Pinterest suggest a 10-part water solution for every one cup of vinegar. I did my research and found that the scientific smarties insist that a solution that diluted WILL NOT WORK.
Repeat it again: three cups water, one cup vinegar. mkay? Moving on.
Soak for 5-10 Minutes
Here are my beauties in the bath. Few reasons I didn’t soak them in the sink: One–my sink wasn’t exactly camera-ready. Two–it would take a lot of vinegar to keep the necessary concentration in a kitchen sink. A bowl with 8 cups of total liquid (say it again: 6 cups water, 2 cups vinegar) was the perfect amount of liquid for a pound of berries.
While I soaked one pound of berries in the water-vinegar solution (three parts to one part, respectively, don’t you know?), I soaked the control group in plain tap water. Everybody bathed for 5-10 minutes. Good things (like baths) never last.
Do Not Rinse the Berries
After the quick bath, I drained my berries. When you’re doing this, resist the urge to rinse off the vinegar smell. The vinegar wash protects berries against mold. If you rinse them under the tap, you’ll undo the whole process.
Allow Berries to Dry Completely
Moisture is your enemy. Now’s when I wished I had a salad-spinner because that would have sped up the drying process. Bacteria hearts moisture, so make sure to let your berries dry completely before putting them back in the container. If you’re one of the cool kids with a salad spinner, give it a whirl. If you’re like me, you’ll have to rely on patience and evaporation.
I did eat a berry at this stage and tasted a bit of a vinegar tang–not as unpleasant as I expected, but my skepticism grew at first taste.
Reuse the Breathable Container
Rinse, dry, and reuse the plastic container. Not only is it the green thing to do, but the container is designed for breathability–a feature your berries will appreciate when you put them in the fridge.
I ate another berry once it had dried completely and the vinegar taste was gone. Like, gone-gone! I could still smell the difference between the control group and the vinegar group, but there was no discernible taste difference once the evaporation had taken place. Attitude 180 degree shift. Now I’m thinkin, I might be a believer.
Fast Forward a Week for Results
Here is my control group. 80% of berries had some degree of mold growth.
Here is my vinegar group. While there was a fair about of shriveledge (we can make that a word, can’t we?), there was no mold. Conservatively, I’d say the vinegar bath gave at least a 2-3 day advantage to this group over the control.
So now I’m the newest proponent of the vinegar-berry bath, but not in a 10/1 ratio as most of the “Pinternet” would suggest. Go 3/1 and call me in the morning, preferably when the Belgian waffles are hot and ready. XOXO
Vinegar Berry Wash
6 C Water
2 C Vinegar
1 lb strawberries
Mix the vinegar and water in a bowl. Add the strawberries and let soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain berries. DO NOT RINSE. Allow berries to dry completely before putting them back into a breathable container and storing in the refrigerator.