Have you ever picked out a beautiful crate of strawberries at the farmer’s market or a grocery store only to grab one out of the fridge a few days later and see that it’s mushy and wrinkled or, even worse, covered in white fuzz?

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It’s such a shame to waste food – and healthy food at that – and no one likes throwing their produce in the trash.

Strawberries are a hugely popular food, with 94% of U.S. households buying them each year, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

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Speaking of fun facts, did you know they are actually a member of the rose family?

The number of dishes – from salads to desserts – that are improved by strawberries seems endless in springtime, which is why Americans eat an average of 3 pounds of strawberries every year (not counting frozen ones!).

How many pounds do you think come from strawberry shortcake?

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The health benefits of strawberries are also a great reason to keep them around (as well as keep them from going bad!). While putting whipped cream on them isn’t always in your best interests, plain strawberries can give you a great vitamin C boost.

One trick to know is that if you leave on the green stems until you’re ready to eat them the vitamin C is preserved even longer!

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Strawberries also pack a punch of Vitamin K (which plays a role in helping your blood clot), as well as fiber, folic acid, manganese (which is good for bone health), and potassium.

The flavanoids in strawberries are what gives them their bright red color. While the research isn’t conclusive, many doctors believe these antioxidants can help reduce your risk of certain cancers, heart disease, asthma, and possibly even stroke (since they’re good for brain health).

They’re also a great food if you’re trying to lose weight by eating healthier because even though they contain natural sugars, the combination of fiber and fructose can help regulate blood sugar levels and slow down digestion so that you feel full longer.

You can even use strawberry leaves to make tea!

Ok, so now that you know how important it is to keep strawberries around, how do you keep them from going bad?

It’s simple, if a little more time-consuming than sticking them in the fridge.

No matter what, you need to wash your strawberries, especially if you don’t know what was sprayed on them (or who touched them before you got there).

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But this trick will both cleanse and help maintain the shelf-life of strawberries.

Simply mix one part white vinegar and three parts water and submerge your the fruit in the solution. Most experts agree that 5 minutes of soaking is key and longer won’t kill any extra bacteria.

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(Please don’t use your cleaning vinegar. It’s a common cleaning product these days, but it’s not the same as the stuff we can ingest so make sure your bottle says it’s safe for consumption!)

Source: The Krazy Coupon Lady

(Note: Vinegar has been shown to remove 98 percent of bacteria, so it’s worth the effort!)

Then, simply lay your berries out to dry on a towel or in a colander. The vinegar won’t affect the taste of your strawberries, but if you’re concerned you can simply rinse them with water before drying them off.

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Finally, if you have room in your fridge, you might try to lay them out across a larger surface area rather than sticking them in a bowl. While the vinegar trick will kill most of the bacteria, if there’s anything left on them that starts to grow, the close quarters will help it spread to other berries and ruin the bunch (you know what they say about “one bad apple?).

The key here is making sure they’re dry before storing them. Moisture helps bacteria grow, so you want to get all the water off. Try a salad spinner if you don’t want to wait too long to put them away.

You can also put layers of towels (or paper towels if you don’t mind the waste) in between layers.

And voila! Your strawberries should last enough extra days for you to get through the bunch without them going bad.

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Source: Reader’s Digest