Dear Barbara: Since strawberry season is so short, I want to use as many as possible. I bought a lug of them at our favorite berry stand. What is the best way to store them, and how long can I keep them before they start to spoil? — Kendra from Lodi
Dear Kendra: Local berries are wonderful right now. They also get “old” very quickly. You should always use them the day you purchase them, and hull and wash them right before using. If this is not possible, then I would suggest putting them on a cookie sheet (with short sides) in a single layer, but you really need to use them the next day. Any longer than that and they can get moldy and should be tossed out.
If you have a lot of strawberries left, you can freeze them while they are still good. If you do this method, add 1⁄2 cup of sugar to 1 quart of fruit. They can then be frozen for 10 to 12 months. Remember that when you thaw them, they will be a slightly different color and texture. They will not look like the berries you started with.
Dear Barbara: We love sweet corn and make it often. The reason I am writing is because I can never get all the “silk” to come off and I waste a lot of time picking it off a strand or two at a time. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the silk off with out hurting the kernels? — Susan from Lodi?
Dear Susan: Yes, Susan, there is another way. A friend of mine showed me and I always use this method now.
After removing the husk and the majority of silk, scrub the corn gently, under cool water, with a vegetable brush, in the opposite direction than it grows. I’ve had a lot of success with this method and I hope that you do also.
Dear Barbara: I’ve always heard that rhubarb leaves were poisonous. Is it true or just something that a mother tells her children to stay away from the rhubarb patch? — Lisa from Galt
Dear Lisa: According to iVillageGardenWeb, there is a reason to be wary. If you ate the leaves it could make you very ill. If you compost the leaves, the plant loses its toxicity and it is fine to put the leaves in your composting.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.