CASA GRANDE – Is there a friendlier and more versatile fruit than strawberries? From strawberry shortcake to ice cream, fruit salad, jelly or just eating them plain out of a bowl, strawberries rank pretty high on most people’s list of favorite fruits.

But of course, they need to be washed before eating. I’ve always washed my strawberries by simply running them under cold water. Then recently, I learned through a few viral videos, that for all these years, I’ve been washing my strawberries all wrong.

For years, I’ve washed my strawberries by simply giving them a basic rinse under cold running water. Sometimes, I’ll use a bit of lemon juice if I’m making a fruit salad.

But a series of internet videos that were released a while back suggest soaking the strawberries in salted water for a few minutes will pull worms, spiders and bugs from deep inside the strawberries. The theory is that when the fruit comes in contact with the salt, the tiny critters that may have otherwise gone unnoticed emerge from hiding.

As a farm crop, strawberries of course come in contact with bugs and other things we’d typically rather not eat. Sometimes these critters might hitch a ride home from the store and wind up in our kitchens and on occasion, in our meals.

But I’ve never found anything alarming or shocking in any of my fruit — although I did once find a worm squirming around in a piece of fresh salmon I had bought, but that’s a different story (and yes, the fish was returned to the store for a full refund, but it took me a while to cook salmon again).

So when I saw the videos — and there are lots of them — of people soaking their strawberries in salted water, then discovering all kinds of creepy, crawly critters, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Most of the videos give no measurements for the salt-to-water ratio for the strawberry soaking solution. I used about half a cup of salt to a few quarts of water, although I didn’t measure.

Then I took a few packages of store-bought strawberries and dropped them into the salt water.

Nothing dramatic happened. We did find one little thing floating in the water that we couldn’t identify, but I think maybe it was some sort of a leaf, at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

After soaking in salt water, the strawberries do take on a salty taste. If they are in the salt water too long, the fresh and vibrant flavor of the berry will be ruined.

While most videos say to leave the strawberries in the water for 15 minutes to half an hour, that’s far too long.

The saltiness starts to seep into the strawberries after just a few minutes, so the fruit shouldn’t be left in the salt water for more than 10 to 15 minutes, at the most. Probably, five minutes would be more than enough time to draw out any critters.

After soaking, the strawberries must be rinsed thoroughly to wash off all the salt. It was at this point in our salt water experiment that we noticed something unusual. Some of our strawberries had a small white substance on the surface that could easily have been seen as a worm. Maybe it was.

We looked closely at the substance, but unfortunately, I don’t have a microscope in my kitchen so our inspection of the substance was limited.

Several of us looked at the white substance — some thought maybe a tiny worm, others not so sure. I think perhaps it was some sort of reaction the fruit had to the salt — again, that’s what I’m telling myself.

We still ate the strawberries. They were sliced up and folded into our morning crepes with a bit of fresh whipped cream.

But I’ll likely return to my normal method of washing my strawberries, simply rinsing them. Although the salt water method did produce some unexpected results, it didn’t turn up anything that would have stopped me from eating the fruit. And if there are tiny critters in the fruit that I can’t see, maybe I’d rather not know.

Easy crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

½ cup cream or half-and-half

¼ cup sugar (omit if making savory crepes)

½ cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Whisk together flour and the eggs, then gradually add in the cream and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter and beat until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using about 1/3 cup for each crepe. Move and tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook the crepe for about two minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Turn and cook the other side.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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