Strawberries look better and keep longer when they are picked and handled correctly. Because they are a very tender fruit, they will bruise and discolor any time they are squeezed, so handle them gently.
- Grasp the stem just above the berry between the fore-finger an the thumbnail and pull with a slight twisting motion.
- With the stem broken about 1/2 inch from the berry, allow it to roll into the palm of your hand.
- Repeat these operations using both hands until each holds 3-4 berries.
- Carefully place -- don't throw -- the fruit into your containers.
- Don't overfill your containers or try to pack down the berries.
Whether you pick strawberries from your own garden or at a Pick-Your-Own farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Be careful that your feet and knees don't damage plants or fruit in or along the edge of a row.
- Remember that heaping strawberries more than 5 inches deep will bruise the berries.
- Only pick the berries that are fully red. Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden berries.
- Remove berries that show rot, sunburn, insect injury, or other defects and destroy them.
- Pick berries for immediate use any time but if you plan to hold the fruit for a few days, try to pick in the early morning or on cool, cloudy days. Berries picked during the heat of the day bruise easily and will not keep well.
- Keep picked berries in the shade and cool them as soon as possible after picking. Berries that have been handled carefully will keep up to three days in the refrigerator.