Although you can frequently find strawberries in the off season at supermarkets, it isn’t until berry season hits full swing in late spring that you start to see fresh strawberries just about everywhere. They’re hard to resist when they look like bright red jewels in their little baskets, waiting to be purchased – and there is no reason to resist them, because they’re just as good for you as they are delicious. Buying strawberries isn’t difficult, but getting great ones can be because even when a strawberry looks perfect, that doesn’t mean it is going to be exceptionally sweet.
Choosing the best strawberries requires some skill and some luck. Tasting berries is the most reliable way to know if they’re good, but most places won’t let you try too many berries before you buy, and identical looking berries can have different sweetness levels. Looking for a deep red color is another indicator of flavor, but strawberries actually continue to redden after being picked, even though they do not continue to get sweeter, so you can get some disappointing, but brightly colored strawberries, by relying on color alone. A much more reliable way is to pick up the berries and give them a good sniff. Sweet, ripe strawberries are going to have a great strawberry scent to them, much as very ripe peaches, nectarines and other fruits smell great when they’re at their peek. A great smelling basket of strawberries is going to be a good batch, even if one or two are slightly less sweet from the others in their basket.
My final tip for getting great berries is to hedge your bets by looking at a local farmer’s market instead of a grocery store. Farmer’s market berries are grown for flavor and not for the durability to withstand long shipping and storage periods, and they make it from the farm to your table much more quickly than grocery store berries. You can also try berry samples at farmer’s markets just to ensure that you’re getting a flavorful product. Once you find a good vendor, you can come back again and again knowing that you’ll have a reliable source for fantastic strawberries.