The idea of biting into a nice juicy piece of fruit and piercing your mouth isn't a great one for your appetite, but the chance of it happening to you is very, very small. So when you do your next big fruit and veg shop, don't give in to all the 'sabotage' hype, just do your shopping and even potentially enjoy some lowered prices on your favourite fruits.
Let's Start With The Facts
Chances are you've been led to believe that finding a needle in your fruit is far more prevalent than it actually is. While many reports have been made to police, only around nine are believed to be to do with the original incident.
At the current moment, the actual recall remains the same - Donnybrook is the only brand of strawberries that have been recalled, while Berry Obsession and Berrylicious have been withdrawn from sale. All other brands are believed to be safe to eat, with official advice saying to just cut them up before you eat them.
Many of the reports beyond these brands have included copycat incidents and false reports, including one instance where an Adelaide man has been charged for making false claims about his daughter finding a needle in a strawberry.
Similarly a young girl from NSW was caught in a copycat incident, in what police believe was meant as a 'prank'. It's believed she inserted a needle in a strawberry and then showed her friends at school, leading to the police being called. The child will be dealt with under the youth cautioning system.
Subsequent reports about the contamination "spreading" to other fruits including bananas, apples and mangos are considered by police to be entirely isolated instances, despite headlines that suggest otherwise.
Both police and government have moved to address the issue, with new laws increasing the maximum penalty for food contamination from 10 years to 15 years, and a substantial reward offered for any information. But the best thing we can do to stop copycats and false reports spreading is to stay calm and not give into the urge to panic.
It's also a great opportunity to buy up strawberries while they're cheap. Here are some great ideas for what you can do with an abundance of delicious strawberries.
What To Do With Excess Strawberries
Make jam: This is the perfect opportunity to make some delicious homemade jam that you can even bottle up nice and give out as Christmas gifts to friends and family. If you've never made jam before check out this recipe and how-to from Jamie Oliver. Or, if you don't have much time, check out our two-ingredient jam that you can make in the microwave.
Freeze them: Summer is coming soon, and strawberries go perfect with cold cocktails, punch or summery desserts. To freeze whole berries, put them in the freezer in a single layer on a baking tray, then pack them into zip-lock bags once they're frozen solid. Or, if you're after something for summer cocktails, check out our handy method for making strawberry ice cubes.
Strawberries are a very soft fruit and they can also spoil fast if you're not careful. To get the longest shelf life out of your strawberries, just follow these rules.
Cook them: Everyone knows baking is therapeutic, and there are so many things you can bake involving strawberries. If you can't find something that tickles your fancy in this Taste collection of 593 strawberry recipes, I'm afraid you're beyond help.
Picking your own strawberries is a dangerous game. What starts out as good, clean fun plucking berries from their bush quickly escalates into a manic race against everyone else at the patch to pick the most and the best berries, leaving me with scratched limbs, stained lips and way too many berries.
Eat them: This is, of course, the easiest option. It's still quite safe to eat all strawberries if you're cutting them up beforehand - try adding some to your morning cereal, or have some for dessert with a little fresh cream or ice cream, or just snack throughout the day. You can store pre-cut strawberries in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days, if you like to plan ahead.
What else do you make with excess strawberries? Let us know in the comments!
Video. Welcome back to Eating Trash With Claire, the Lifehacker series where I convince you to transform your kitchen scraps into something edible and delicious. In this episode, I show you how to transform strawberries that are just a bit past their prime into a sweet sauce, cocktail-friendly ice cubes and a delicious compound butter.