Food Friday: Hulling Strawberries


I waste an enormous amount of each strawberry that I cut, and I bet you do, too. I lop off the end with sharp knife, flying headlong into imaginary conflict with my family line of maternal cooks. My mother would be ashamed at the food I toss out, and her mother would be amazed at all the food options we enjoy in the twenty-first century. Imagine her reaction to boneless chicken breasts, kept in the freezer, compared to the chickens kept in her back yard.

I am the product of Depression-era children. I try to waste not, recycle, and compost; fine efforts which our parents strove to impress upon us. I guess I am inherently lazy, as are most people. There is a glass strawberry jam jar soaking in the kitchen sink as I write this. I want to clean the jar thoroughly enough to go in the recycling bin. My mother would have bought a brand of jam that came in a jar suitable for recycling as a drinking glass. My grandmother would have put up that jam herself, and would be washing the jar to re-use it as she got ready for the June strawberry jam session. I suppose the least I can do is to prepare my strawberries a little more prudently.

Growing up we used a strawberry huller that my mother purchased cheaply with great delight from a mail order catalogue. It was a simple tool, made from a single piece of springy stainless steel, and it pinched out the top of the strawberry with a single pinch. Easy peasy. You can find it here:

But it is not the twenty-first century way to have a simple, easy product to do your bidding. You need a YouTube video: And it still looks as if you need someone to talk you through your first quart or two of strawberries. It does not look very intuitive.

Or you can see many, more expensive hullers:

Bon Appétit magazine has an entire feature about cleaning strawberries without any waste. Heavens to Betsy.

And before they take your straws away, here is another way to hull strawberries from Food and Wine:

There are six pages of hullers and parers and corers and pitters on Amazon. I think I need a strawberry slicer now. And definitely a $9.95 OXO Tot Grape Cutter. So many gadgets, so little drawer space!

Amanda Hesser, our Food52 genius sage, was quoted in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago: “Once you go down the road of having a kale leaf stripper,” she said, “where do you draw the line?” Where indeed?

I think we will do fine with a sharp knife, and a whiff of nostalgia, remembering our mothers and grandmothers as we get ready for summer to whip around the corner. I will be a little more careful when preparing strawberries, because we just can’t enjoy summer without strawberry shortcake, or a Fourth of July strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream sheet cake, can we? – substitute strawberries for the raspberries. It might give you an excuse to use that new strawberry slicer.

“One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

About Jean Sanders

Letters to Editor

  1. Jean, Your article was terrific! I too had/have the springy stainless steel huller but just had to go to Amazon to see all these gadget you wrote about! After a laugh or two, at what could be purchased, I decided I love my ancient huller and did not need to spend $4.81 for another to match it! Thank you for a lovely afternoon “read” and a chuckle or two! Jan Borden, Heron Point, Chestertown, MD

    • Jean Sanders says

      Isn’t it wonderful to feel virtuous AND thrifty? Thanks for your kind note, Jan. Now run out and get some strawberries. I bought some heavy cream this afternoon – it’s shortcake for us tonight! No virtue whatsoever!

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