If you do not plan to use the berries immediately, remove them from containers, arrange them in a single layer in a flat container, cover, and refrigerate; use within one to two days. Choose brightly colored, plump, fragrant berries, without any darker, sunken, or runny spots. The fringed green caps should be attached and look fresh. Avoid soft, shriveled, or moldy berries. Do not wash until you are just ready to use them. If not using immediately, store them (preferably in a single layer on a paper towel) in a moistureproof container in the refrigerator for two to three days. Just before serving, wash strawberries (keeping the green caps attached) under a gentle spray of cool water. For best flavor, allow strawberries to reach room temperature before serving. After washing, remove the green caps from the berries with a light twist or with the point of a paring knife. Strawberries freeze well. You can do so with or without sugar. To freeze strawberries using sugar, mix equal amounts of sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool the mixture completely. Measure 1 cup (149g) of stemmed and sliced strawberries into a 2-cup-size (473.16ml) freezer bag. Pour 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup (118.3–157.7ml) of the sugar/water mixture into the bag—just enough to completely cover the strawberries. Seal and freeze the bag, keeping berries in a single layer. To freeze strawberries without the use of sugar, set whole, firm berries on a cookie sheet, in a single layer and not touching each other, and place in the freezer. After berries are frozen, put them in a sealable plastic bag. This way they are “individually frozen” and do not stick together. Because the moisture content of strawberries varies throughout the season, it’s recommended that home-frozen strawberries be used in beverages and sauces, not in recipes where liquid variations could make a difference. (Commercially frozen strawberries are consistent in texture and density.) Thawing strawberries in the refrigerator will allow them to retain their shape better. When thawing at room temperature, keep the berries in a clean, sanitary environment. Cover and refrigerate unused thawed berries within two hours. Never try to speed up the thawing process by running water over the outside of the container, as that allows bacteria to grow. After thawing, keep berries refrigerated and use within three days. Never re-freeze strawberries. While still attractive, thawed strawberries may be a little darker and lack the sheen that a fresh berry would have.