Pastry secrets

5 rules on how to choose strawberries for food and decor

Year after year, ripe, fragrant strawberries open the summer berry season. The first crop can be found on the shelves as early as the end of May. Everyone loves strawberries, and pastry chefs are no exception. Fresh strawberries are great for decorating desserts, and frozen berries make a delicious confit for toppings.

Of course, there is nothing more delicious than strawberries picked in "season. However, strawberries do not store for very long. Therefore, to enjoy strawberries year-round, many housewives make strawberry jam. It is not only very tasty. And confectioners prepare strawberry puree to add to cakes, pastries, jellies, marshmallows, and marmalade.

The main advantage of strawberries is their appetizing appearance and rich taste. In addition, strawberries contain a large number of vitamins and useful substances. Iodine, zinc, folic acid, vitamins B and C are the substances found in each berry.

Also, strawberries are those berries that have no large seeds (only small kernels). Therefore, they are ideal for use in desserts. Cakes decorated with strawberries or having strawberry filling are not only delicious, but also easy to eat (nothing gets stuck in your teeth). That's why strawberry desserts are so popular.

In general, strawberries are a real wand for the pastry chef. For desserts to turn out delicious and aesthetically pleasing, you need to buy quality berries. So today let's talk about how to choose the right strawberries. I will tell you what you should pay attention to when buying strawberries and how to store them properly.

5 rules for choosing strawberries

Now let's take a closer look at the signs of a quality berry and learn how to choose delicious strawberries by their appearance.

Rich red color

The first thing you should pay attention to when choosing strawberries is their color. A quality strawberry has a rich red color. The fact is that natural strawberries contain anthocyanins (plant pigments that determine the color of the berry).

Cloudy maroon or black spots indicate that the berries are starting to spoil. Unhomogeneous color, green and yellowish spots indicate that the strawberries have been picked unripe. Frosted berries covered with a coating are spoiled.

In general, if you buy strawberries at the market, give preference to berries with a rich color. If you press lightly with your finger on such strawberries, they should only crumple slightly.

If you buy strawberries in the store, keep in mind that most often there are pale red berries on the shelves. As a rule, such strawberries are picked slightly unripe, so they will last longer in the store.

Also on supermarket shelves you can find bright red strawberries that are ripe on the outside and unripe on the inside. They taste unsweetened and watery, but look appetizing. Such strawberries are good for dessert decorations, but you can hardly make a tasty jam out of them.

Strawberry Flavor

Good natural strawberries have a characteristic berry flavor. Therefore, when choosing strawberries, pay attention to their smell.

If the berry is beautiful and appetizing in appearance, but does not smell at all, it is a reason to think. Most likely, such berries are full of additives and are not sweet at all. Natural strawberries may also have no smell, but it is still a sign that they are tasteless. Most often such strawberries can be found on the shelves of supermarkets, as they are well tolerated in transportation.

But beware: Chinese farmers, having foreseen that customers pay attention to the smell, began to add artificial flavors to the already unnatural strawberries. Since Chinese strawberries are usually found only in supermarkets, look for the manufacturer's information on the label and be especially careful when buying such strawberries.

Dense green tails and leaves

Berry tails and leaves are among the main indicators of strawberry freshness. Quality strawberries have green, firm leaves that are floppy and well-shaped. A bright green color indicates that the berries have been picked recently.

If the leaves are dry, yellowed, and show obvious signs of wilting, it is an indication that the strawberries were harvested a long time ago or not picked correctly. That is why sellers at the market often cut off the tails of berries in order to sell them. So if you are offered strawberries without tails, it is better to refuse such an option.

White stripes on the leaves mean that harmful chemicals have been added to the strawberries during cultivation. You should not buy such berries.

Lots of yellow kernels

Properly picked natural strawberries have many yellow seeds on the surface. This indicates that the strawberry is sweet and tasty. The deeper the seeds are buried in the berry, the tastier the strawberry.

If strawberries have no seeds or are colorless, they have been frozen and thawed. This is usually the case with strawberries that have been shipped from afar. Such strawberries may look appetizing, but be completely unpalatable.

Small berry size

Equally large berries stacked in rows means they have been grown with harmful fertilizers. Good strawberries should be heterogeneous. Thus, if the variety calls for medium-sized berries, they should be small and dissimilar. If several large and small berries are found in a batch, this is normal.

If you consider the botanical characteristics of strawberries, you'll notice that small berries tend to be the tastiest and sweetest. So if you're looking for strawberries for a flavorful jam or appetizing confit, choose medium-sized berries.

Where better to buy strawberries: in the store or at the market

It seems to me that for delicious, ripe strawberries you should go to the market. There are several reasons for this:

Good value

As a rule, in "season" strawberries are cheaper at the market than in the store. This is due to various economic factors. Moreover, at the market one can bargain and get a lot of strawberries at a bargain price.

Better quality, natural berries

Basically, strawberries are brought to the market in "season" with the aim of selling one batch and bringing a new one as soon as possible. In general, the assortment at the market is renewed more often. That is why artificial watery strawberries in "season" are rare.

Large packaging

Supermarket shelves usually sell strawberries packed in small containers. If you need some strawberries for decoration (especially in the "off season"), it makes sense to buy them at the store. But if you decide to stock up on strawberries in order to make a lot of jam or puree, it is better to buy strawberries at the market.

Huge selection

There are many rows of strawberries for sale at the market. Very often the strawberries in each point differ in the place of picking. Therefore, it is convenient to walk through the rows, look at the whole assortment and choose what you need at a reasonable price. The assortment in stores is limited.

The opportunity to taste strawberries

Sellers, wanting to sell their products as quickly as possible, are ready to meet the customers' needs. Thus, when buying berries at the market, there is an opportunity to taste them. And this is very good, because the taste of strawberries plays a paramount role. In the supermarket there is no such opportunity, you can say you are buying a cat in a poke.

And also, as a rule, transportable varieties of strawberries are brought into stores, which may have an appetizing appearance, but be watery in taste. And if such strawberries are good for decoration, you cannot make a tasty berry filling out of them. On the other hand, there is a wide variety of strawberries on the market, so you always have a choice.

What's important for decor

When choosing strawberries to decorate desserts, you should first pay attention to their appearance. Strawberries should be similar in size, color, and shape. Taste is not so important, so in a pinch you can use berries from the store.

Many pastry chefs freeze whole berries and store them in the freezer for several months. Defrosted strawberries are great for making mousses, jellies, marshmallows, and toppings for desserts. But it is better not to use them for decoration. First, defrosted strawberries are not as appetizing as fresh ones. Second, they release liquid when defrosted and can ruin the cream coating.

It is best to decorate desserts with fresh berries. Strawberries do not keep for long, only 2-3 days. Therefore, it is best to decorate desserts just before serving. Buy strawberries for decoration better the day before the celebration. To strawberries keep their appetizing appearance on the dessert longer, you can cover them with a neutral gel or gelatin.

Rules for storing strawberries

Fresh strawberries do not keep very long, only 2-3 days. But if the storage conditions are not observed, the storage time is reduced to a few hours.

It's hard to imagine the pastry industry without strawberries. Fresnel cake, strawberry marshmallows, berry layers, and flavorful jellies are all made with good, high-quality strawberries. To make your desserts the tastiest, choose the right fresh berries. I hope my tips will help you do just that

Photo: taken from the internet

Alina Petrova