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Strawberries are a fruit rich in color, vitamin C and antioxidants, bursting with a hint of sweetness and touch of tartness at the same time. Strawberries make for the perfect dessert complement or side dish; however, cutting and serving the fruit at the right time and in the correct manner makes all the difference. For ideal freshness, serve strawberries during peak season, which typically lasts from April through July; however, fresh strawberries can be sold late into the summer.

Purchase strawberries between April and July for ultimate freshness. When shopping, choose strawberries that are bright red and shiny. Strawberries that have a dull red color are typically too ripe. In addition, be sure to choose strawberries that are firm and free of bruises.

Store strawberries in the refrigerator immediately when arriving home from the store, especially in warm weather conditions. Keep the strawberries in the container you purchased them in and do not wash or cut before refrigerating.

Prepare the strawberries for serving the day you plan to eat them. Strawberries are best when eaten the day of purchase or within two to three days of purchase. (See References 1 and 2)

Wash the strawberries with a clean, wet paper towel approximately one hour before serving. They should be exposed to as little water as possible because they easily absorb water. Too much water can effect the flavor.

Remove any bruises or marks with a pearing knife. (See References 2)

Cut off the stem and the hull of each strawberry with a pearing knife.

Place the top of the strawberry where the stem was facing down on a cutting board. Slice downward from one end of the strawberry to the other to create slices. Slices are best for serving strawberries alone, in a fruit salad or with desserts.

Place the strawberries over a dessert as a garnish or serve in individual bowls.

Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of cane sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche for an extra touch or mix with other fruits for a fruit salad.