Introduction: Observations Concerning Strawberry Storage Methods

About: I'm just a cranky old bastard who's had his hand in too many things already..
Frustrated with the short time that store-bought strawberries last without disintegrating with rot and mildew , I "experimented" with unusual ways of preserving the freshness and flavor.    Often, the berries even when apparently 'fresh' at the supermarket will show evidence of going bad within a couple of days no matter how I would store them -- fridge or no fridge ... vacuum-bag or not.  I say "Experimented" in quotes for there is little true scientific validity to my methods which violate basic rules of true experimental research.... I am merely reporting observations without benefit of 'control group' , etc...   The fact of the surprising results, however, do suggest a value in this report.

The photo shows two jars each containing strawberries bought on the same day at same store a week and a half ago.. One jar also contains peeled garlic cloves .. the addition of which was whimsical, my needing a place to store them.

On the right:   berries in EVOO ( extra-virgin olive oil) , on top of a layer of garlic.  The berries, curiously, have a density greater than EVOO but less than garlic cloves, the significance of which I will address momentarily.  

Close examination will show that very small bubbles are streaming upward from the garlic to the surface, passing the berries.   This might be significant because members of the 'onion' genus (onions/garlic/leeks/chives)  can release a certain gas  which later forms a weak sulphuric acid resulting in tears without sadness .  I have stored onions in vacuum bags only to find weeks later that the vacuum bag was now a balloon with significant gas pressure inside!  The fact that no bleaching of the berries occurred suggests that the gas was not oxygen.

I cannot gauge the effects of this or any similar gas (which certainly might emanate from garlic as well as onion) on the berries  other than to mention that we are advised not to store onions near other vegetables because the other vegetables will deteriorate.   In other words,  an expected effect of the gas would be to possibly promote berry disintegration, which did not occur!               

The berries in EVOO and garlic remain as near to being totally unchanged as i can sense: good color, firm texture, and fine flavor.  (These berries, do to reflections, seem to suggest some 'patchy' loss of color .. which did not occur .

What we might conclude is that berries can be stored for significantly longer time in the oil, in which they will submerge and not float to surface where oxygen etc might harm them.  Now, a week and a half later, berry color, flavor, and firmness are maintained.    The oil does not detract from the berry qualities, IMHO.

On the left we have another jar containing berries in water to which about 1 Tablespoon of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide per cup was added.

Observations:   Deterioration of these berries has occurred:  they have lost significant color, and taste and 'firmness of texture' .. this was not acceptable.  Small amounts of oxygen promote life, including the life of fungi, bacteria.   Additional oxygen (as provided by the auto-decomposition of H2O2 into oxygen and water can destroy living things and it's clear that either the mere submerging of the berries in water and/or the added oxygen had a preservation effect.  But  the outer 1/3 of a typical berry was soft and mushy, although there was no indication of actual mildew/fungal presence.   My impression: the added oxygen's bleaching effects were not acceptable.. Nor was the 'softness' of texture, probably due to water itself.  Simple osmosis can explain this consequence.


I have more work to do ;) .   We can not know from these observations if the desirable results of the EVOO-method were affected by presence of garlic.   For that I shall do a more-rigorous study.

But it shall have to wait:  til i polish off the EVOO berries!   ...  In the mean time, some of you might benefit from this report  ..   (Yes, the peroxide-bathed berries went down the drain!)