How to Preserve Strawberries Until Using
Fresh strawberries are highly perishable and delicate. Fresh strawberries should be used within one to two days for best quality.
When you get your carefully selected fragrant, absolutely perfect basket of berries home, spread the berries at once in a single layer on a shallow tray or container so they can have air. Strawberries do not like to be overcrowded. Discard spoiled berries, and store the tray in the refrigerator.
Berries taste best at room temperature - warm enough to be fragrant. (Much of our sense of taste is actually a sense of smell.) So refrigerate berries only if the room is hot and the berries won't be used for many hours.
Rinse fresh strawberries just before you are ready to use. Rinsing strawberries removes their natural protective outer layer, and if done before refrigerating, quality will deteriorate rapidly. Don't rinse them unless you must. Most berries are clean. Some strawberries have so many seeds that some need to be rinsed away.
Always, rinse berries gently in cold running water very briefly. Don't soak. Leave caps on during rinsing to prevent water from soaking into the strawberry, diluting the flavor and changing the texture. If the berries have sand and soil on them, several rinsings in clean water may be necessary.
Drain the berries in a roomy colander then spread them on paper towels. Let the berries air dry, or gently pat them dry with a paper towel.
Remove the caps by giving them a gentle twist, or use the point of a sharp paring knife.
Always taste one berry from a lot before you start to cook with the others. Sweetness varies. If they seem especially tart to you, add the maximum amount of sugar called for. You can save berries, particularly tasteless strawberries, by adding lemon, orange, or pineapple juice and fruit pieces or by adding liqueurs - Grand Marnier, Cointreau, for Strawberry Sauce. (Be aware that these liqueurs have an alcohol content.) Sugar is the big berry saver. As a rule, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar to a pint of berries, depending on their tartness.