Not much is better than fresh, succulent strawberries in the spring. But they are kind of fragile little creatures. When shopping for strawberries, pick only the best, ripe strawberries free from bruises.

The strawberries should be firm but of even color. Those with white or green shoulders are not yet ripe and will not be sweet. Local berries are often fresher and therefore better than those trucked in. Smaller berries are often sweeter than large berries.

When you get the berries home, pick through them and discard any that have mold. Do not wash them and do not remove the caps. Strawberries are best if used fresh. To keep them as fresh as possible, layer them between sheets of paper towels in the refrigerator.

When you get ready to use the strawberries, wash them with the caps on. Strawberries absorb water readily and waterlogged strawberries have reduced flavor and will be a runny mess in your favorite dish. To wash strawberries, either rinse them quickly in gently running water or agitate them momentarily in a bowl of water to release any foreign matter. Drain them and pat them dry on paper towels to avoid water absorption.

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