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Strawberries

18 delicious ways to eat strawberries, including strawberry recipes, advice on buying, storing, preserving and preparing strawberries.

New Zealand Strawberry Season: September - March

Spring heralds in the arrival of deliciously sweet strawberries, grown right here in New Zealand. Our locally grown strawberry season continues right through Summer into March. Purchasing strawberries when in season, will save you money and reward you with unbelievably tasty, juicy strawberries. It’s a great time to buy them in bulk and preserve them until you’re ready to enjoy them. Imported strawberries from Australia and the USA extend our strawberry season. Off season, you'll find plenty of frozen, freeze dried, dehydrated and canned strawberries in store.

Strawberries

The best way to buy strawberries

Strawberries are best bought when ripe and freshly picked. When buying fresh, look for strawberries that are a bright shiny red colour, with an intact green stem. You can buy fresh strawberries online here. Strawberries don't ripen after they are harvested, meaning their flavour won't continue to intensify or sweeten. The colour of strawberries can darken after picking, so, again, colour is not always an indicator of sweetness. The best way to detect if strawberries are ripe and sweet is to smell them. If they smell strong and sweet, they are ripe and ready to eat.

The sweetest strawberry

The sweetest strawberry variety in New Zealand is the Pajaro. This premium fruit is super sweet, bright red in colour, large in size and symmetrical in shape.

Strawberries get sweeter later in the season

Strawberry plants thrive in maximum sun and heat and we happen to have both in abundance during our Kiwi summers. You can therefore expect to find seasonal strawberries grown and harvested during summer to be sweeter than the earlier picked varieties.

Shop berries online

How can you tell if a strawberry is fresh?

Strawberries have a short shelf life, so look out for these signs that they're no longer fresh:

  • Bruised or soggy berries
  • A limp green stem
  • Signs of mould on the fruit surface
  • An unpleasant, musty smell

How to store strawberries

The secret to storing picked strawberries is to keep them cold and dry and in an airtight container. Here are our top tips for extending the life of your strawberries.

Strawberries last longer in the fridge than on the counter

Fresh strawberries last longer in the fridge. In fact they should always be stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and with their stems attached. If you can, remove them from the container that they are sold in and spread the berries out in a single layer over a paper towel lined container and cover with an airtight lid before refrigerating.

Strawberries tend to have mould spores on their surface and this can cause them to spoil quickly when kept at room temperature. You must remove any mouldy berries immediately otherwise the mould will spread to other berries and spoil them. The green stem keeps a strawberry fresh for longer so only remove when ready to eat.

How to keep strawberries fresh for longer

If you want to extend the life of your strawberries, you could try soaking them in a solution of vinegar and water (1:5 ratio) for 5 minutes. The vinegar will destroy any mould or bacteria. Remember to dry the berries thoroughly before refrigerating as above. One benefit of using this method is that you won't need to rinse your strawberries again when ready to eat.

Strawberries stay fresh for up to 2 weeks

A popular storage method used among the zero waste community is to keep strawberries in a glass jar in the fridge where they should last up to 14 days.

You can freeze strawberries for up to 6 months

If you have leftover strawberries, did you know that you can freeze them? Begin by washing and hulling the strawberries as outlined below. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for 1-4 hours until solid then remove and place berries in a freezer safe storage bag or airtight container. Place back in the freezer for up to 6 months. Frozen strawberries can be used later in smoothies, juices, compotes, muffins and fruit pies.

How to prepare strawberries

Strawberries need to remain chilled in the refrigerator until just before serving. They are very simple to prepare - quickly rinse under cool running water until clean, then lightly pat the surface until completely dry.

  • Remove the stem and core
  • Using a strawberry huller, remove the green stem (also known as the calyx) and the tough inner core in one go. Alternatively you can use a sharp paring knife to remove the stem but take care not to cut too much of the top off.
  • Slice as required
  • You can serve strawberries whole, or sliced in halves, quarters, slices or diced.

What you can make with NZ strawberries

There are so many ways to enjoy this deliciously juicy red berry. In fact, strawberries can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. From good old strawberries and cream, to sweet strawberry vinaigrette.

Strawberries

Macerated strawberries

Simply sprinkle granulated sugar over your strawberries and allow them to sit for up to an hour, until the sugar is drawn out of the fruit.

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar

Strawberry and balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven. This simple variation of macerated strawberries creates a delicious strawberry dessert your dinner guests will love. Just mix and warm a little balsamic vinegar and granulated sugar in a pan, then stir the strawberries in and leave to sit at room temperature for an hour or two. An easy dessert recipe and divine served with strawberry pie or poured over vanilla ice cream or mascarpone.

18 creative ways use up strawberries

  1. Make a sweet strawberry vinaigrette to drizzle over your summer salad.
  2. Incorporate fresh strawberry and grapes into your fruit salad.
  3. Bake a sweet strawberry cake, or a strawberry shortcake - these both call for fresh and preserved strawberries.
  4. Bake a tray of strawberry and white chocolate muffins. Strawberry and chocolate is a heavenly match.
  5. Add dried strawberry pieces to your granola.
  6. Top your breakfast yoghourt with fresh strawberries, honey and sliced almonds.
  7. Blend strawberry and banana together with peanut butter and regular milk for a nutritious, filling smoothie.
  8. Drizzle strawberry sauce over your strawberry souffle and wow your guests.
  9. Sprinkle freshly diced macerated strawberries over homemade strawberry ice cream.
  10. Shake up a strawberry daiquiri or margarita for happy hour or add slices of frozen strawberry to your gin and tonic.
  11. Strawberry and cream cheese are perfect companions in a strawberry cheesecake.
  12. Serve fresh strawberries and whipped cream with plain scones for afternoon tea.
  13. Make your own strawberry jam or strawberry cream cheese and spread onto hot bagels.
  14. Encourage the kids to help make chocolate dipped strawberries for an after dinner treat.
  15. Coat sliced strawberries in a light strawberry glaze and load up into a baked crisp tart case. Serve topped with whipped cream.
  16. Combine strawberries and cream in a light and fruity strawberry mousse.
  17. Bake a comforting strawberry pie using fresh or frozen berries. You can combine strawberry with tart rhubarb when in season.
  18. Toss a delicious strawberry salad together with avocado, baby spinach or rocket leaves, red onion, diced feta, walnut pieces and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Preserving strawberries

As a seasonal fruit, strawberries aren't available year round. The good news is that you can preserve them at home when in season, by freezing or bottling, making strawberry jams or sauces, freeze drying or dehydrating before grinding into powdered strawberry. You can then enjoy the sweet flavour of strawberries all year round. You will also find a range of preserved strawberries in your local food store:

- Canned strawberries - perfect for pies
- Frozen strawberries - great in fruit smoothies
- Dehydrated strawberry powder - to add intense strawberry flavour to sorbets, fruit jellies, cookies and cakes.

Helping you to save more on your grocery shopping

When you buy produce that’s in season, you’ll enjoy our fresh guarantee with food at its freshest, tastiest and most nutritious. Discover what fruits are in season now by visiting our Fresh Market Update. If you'd like to discover more ways to save money on fruits and vegetables, or ways to save money on groceries all together, you’ll find plenty more tips on our website.