It's that time of the year for the berry season.
I have wild blackberries on the Farm and will share some recipes later in the month. Right now, you may have access to strawberries and other hard-to-clean berries and I'd like to share some food safety information with you.
Strawberries have been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks through the transmission of hepatitis A (virus) and E. coli (bacteria). And the sources have been US and foreign, processed and fresh.
Fresh berries are also notorious for molding and having a short half life. Never purchase a carton of fruit where you can see mold on any of the fruit. The food safety rule is the whole container of food should be discarded if mold can be seen on any part of the food in the container.
Ideally, if you want fresh berries, you should:
- know your source (and make sure they practice "Good Agricultural Practices"),
- make sure you wash YOUR hands before handling them (20 second scrub with soap and water)
- and--rinse your berries with a vinegar-and-water solution.
A University of Florida study showed that a solution of white vinegar, mixed with water in the proportions 1 part white vinegar to 10 parts of water--could reduce both bacteria and viruses on berries.
White vinegar is cheap, no reason not to try this. The berries can be put into a glass bowl, the solution poured over, then drain the berries in a colander in a sanitized sink--no rinsing--and return to a fresh glass bowl for refrigerator storage. (reminder-don't use metal bowls, specifically not aluminum or copper, with an acid solution).
Thank you to FreeFoto.com and photographer Ian Britton for the raspberry picture.