Monash University recommends 10 medium (140 g) strawberries as a serving size.
Fragaria × ananassa is the common strawberry – Strawberries are not only a Green Light food designated by Monash – they are actually one of the foods with no detectable FODMAP content. (Read about more FODMAP free foods in our article, There are Green Lights, and Then There Are REALLY Green Lights). This means that while there is a suggested serving size, you could be more liberal in your Challenges for yourself and try eating more strawberries in one sitting, if you like.
How to Buy
Color is actually not automatically an indication of sweetness. You might be drawn to a deep rich red all-over color, but many berries have been bred and hybridized for color and not necessarily taste – and taste is paramount! Ask to sample a berry before buying. Believe it or not many markets will let you do this, even if they do not advertise that they do. In general, however, do steer clear of berries that have white or green tops or shoulders. Strawberries also vary hugely is size from thimble size to golf balls size, so before you buy check your recipe to see if a size is recommended such as “medium”.
Look for firm, plump, slight dry berries. Sometimes they sport a slight sheen when very fresh. They should have their green tops intact, which should also look perky and not withered. If the berries are packed in a sealed clamshell type container, turn it over to view the berries on the bottom and make sure none are squished or moldy.
How they are sold can also vary. You might find pints and/or quarts, especially at farmer’s markets. The grower fills the pint and quart containers by eye until they are full, but the weight can fluctuate, typically anywhere between 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) to a little over 2 pounds (910 g) for a quart. You will find a variety of weights because a quart is a volume measurement. You also might find strawberries packaged by weight, such as 16-ounce (454 g) packages. (I was once hired by Driscoll’s to figure out the weight vs. volume of all of their berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries – and the strawberries were definitely the most problematic because they can vary so much in size).
Here is some frequently needed information, representing averages:
1 pint of medium sized strawberries = 3/4 pound (340 g) = 2 cup (480 ml)s quartered or sliced
1 quart of medium sized strawberries = 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) = 4 cups (960 ml) quartered or sliced
16-ounce (454 g) clamshell container = 3 cups (720 ml) quartered or sliced
How to Prep & Use
Wash strawberries right before using and gently pat dry with clean paper towels. They are a great raw fruit as is, on top of cereal, sliced into yogurt, frozen for smoothies or featured in recipes such as our Fresh Strawberry Tart or Roasted Strawberries. If eating berries on their own, bring to room temperature before serving for optimal flavor and juiciness.
How to Store
All berries are very perishable and it is best to use them soon after purchase. Keep them refrigerated, unwashed until serving. I turn to my Mom’s storage technique as tried and true.
- Remove any moldy berries from the bunch as they can spread the rot.
- Place in a single layer in a paper towel lined container.
- Seal, but not airtight.
- Refrigerate in crisper drawer.
- Bring to room temperature before serving for best flavor if eating as is.
Follow these directions and you will get maximum longevity and maximize flavor and texture.
Most of the berries we cook with and eat for snacks will be a hybrid of Fragaria × ananassa. Occasionally you might come across the woodland strawberry, seen above, which is Fragaria vesca. These tiny berries are also called fraises des bois, alpine and sometimes just referred to as “wild”.
Many strawberries are at their peak in June but there are varieties that are early, mid or late season as well.
One curious fact is that while some people exhibit allergic symptoms to strawberries, there is some research that suggests the reaction is connected specifically to a protein for the red anthocyanin biosynthesis expressed during strawberry ripening, named Fra a1 (Fragaria allergen1). There are white/off white varieties that are free of Fra a1, which may be an option for those who have experienced allergies to the more common red berry. One cultivar called “Sofar” is said to be a good choice, although it is hard to find.