Clean Strawberries The Right Way, With A Salt Water Scrub

Strawberries are among the top sellers in the grocery store's produce section, but are we all cleaning these berries effectively?

A 2021 survey by Gurney's revealed that nearly 17% of Americans don't wash their produce unless it visibly appears dirty. Given this statistic, it's safe to say that some strawberries are being consumed without proper washing. While many people simply soak their fruit in water, this method may not be sufficient for removing all dirt, bugs, worms, and other contaminants like pesticides. Instead, you should use a salt water scrub to clean your strawberries.

Salt serves multiple purposes when it comes to cleaning strawberries. Rubbing the small granules over the berry helps remove surface dirt and contaminants. Soaking the strawberries in salted water creates an inhospitable environment for any small bugs lurking in the fruit, prompting them to surface. Additionally, the salt also does the important job of stripping residual pesticides from the strawberry's surface. And don't worry about compromising the sweetness of your strawberries — a brief dunk and scrub in salt water won't make them salty.

How to use a salt water scrub to clean strawberries

There are two main steps for cleaning strawberries with a salt water scrub: soaking and rinsing. First, prepare the salt water solution by filling a large bowl with cold water and dissolving the salt in it. One recommended ratio is about one tablespoon of salt per cup of water, although this can vary. Some suggestions range from as little as one teaspoon per cup to as much as two and a half tablespoons per eight cups of water.

Soak the strawberries in the cool water for about five minutes. Following the soak, rinse off the salt water while gently rubbing the berries to help remove any dirt, bugs, or pesticide residues. Once rinsed, dry the berries using paper towels or a clean dish towel and use them right away. It's best to avoid storing the strawberries for an extended period after soaking and scrubbing to prevent spoilage.

Other ways to clean strawberries

While a salt water scrub is one of the most effective ways to ensure your strawberries are free from dirt and pesticides, there are other cleaning methods available. However, it's important to note that unlike using salt water, alternative methods that involve additional ingredients have the potential to alter the strawberry's sweet flavor or texture.

One alternative is to soak the strawberries in a mixture of vinegar and water. This method requires a bit more time, with around 20 minutes of soaking time needed. Simply combine one part vinegar to four parts water, soak the strawberries, then rinse them in a colander. Another option that takes approximately the same amount of time as a salt water soak is using baking soda. Thoroughly mix one teaspoon of baking soda into four cups of water and stir until fully combined. Briefly soak the strawberries in this mixture before rinsing them.

Lastly, it's crucial to avoid using any cleaning products containing soap or chemicals. While it's important to thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables to prevent ingesting harmful pesticides or pathogens, the FDA advises against using these types of products to minimize the risk of accidental ingestion, which can cause illness.