People Are Soaking Their Strawberries in Salt Water For a Creepy-Crawly Reason
There's a video making the rounds on the internet that may have you rethinking your summer strawberry addiction. You've been warned.
TikTok and other social media outlets have been flooded with videos of people putting their strawberries in salty water. What happens next in the videos is alarming: tiny larvae emerge from the otherwise unblemished fruit. According to Mashed, they're the larvae of an insect called the spotted wing Drosophila, or SWD. They point to research done by Cornell University's Fruit Resources, which says these pests came to the U.S. around 2011 and have since spread across the country.
Now, strawberry crops across the U.S. are infiltrated by these little buggers and they are really hard to spot, because they are nearly invisible. That's where a salt soak comes in. Cornell recommends checking for larvae by creating a solution of enough water to cover your berries, adding one tablespoon of salt for each cup of water and waiting about 15 minutes to see if anything crawls out.
While it's admittedly unsavory, don't swear off cakey strawberry cobbler forever. After all, most Southerners have eaten freshly picked strawberries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry ice cream, and even strawberry shortcake ice cream for years, and survived. Chilling strawberries to 32° or heating them to 91° will stop larvae in their tracks, Mashed notes and, even if you don't do anything to your berries before eating them, "the worst thing you're going to get is a little bit of extra protein in your diet."
Whether you're worried about bugs or not, washing your strawberries is always a good idea. Those beautiful red berries are not easy to grow and farmers tend to rely on pesticides and soil fumigants to try and ward off bugs. Unfortunately, those chemicals aren't great to eat, which is why you should wash your berries before eating them. Real Simple reports that right before you want to eat your berries, the best way get them clean is to soak them for 20 minutes in a solution of four parts water to one part vinegar (vinegar really is good for everything!), rinse and then dry. Easy as (strawberry) pie!