STOP! Before you throw out those strawberry tops and hulls, you need to read this article!
There’s a lot that’s not great about social media, but there are some great things that can come of it, too. Just recently, I happened across a discussion on Facebook’s Rebel Canners group talking about how people use leftover strawberry hulls after they prep them for freezing or preserving. Always one willing to learn new things, this intrigued me.
As it turns out, there are many, many ways people are putting their strawberry “waste” to good use.
- Yes! Strawberry Tops are Edible!
- Ways People Are Using—And Loving—Their Strawberry Tops
- Ways to Use Strawberry Tops as Skin-Health and Beauty Aids
- They’re Tops for Pets, Too
- Other No-waste, Non-eating Uses for Strawberry Tops
- Good News! Less Waste! Less Work!
- Hull, Tops, Calyx, Leafy Crown, Stems…By Any Name, Always Useful
Yes! Strawberry Tops are Edible!
You might not know it, but strawberry tops are edible. Green tops are by themselves, and those with a bit of berry attached are especially tasty. Not only that, but the leaves of the plants are edible, too (though many will say they are not as appealing as the berry tops, mostly owing to texture).
Not only are strawberry tops edible, but all signs point to them being quite healthy and bringing with them a number of health benefits. Benefits like being a source of antioxidants (both the red berry and the tops), being rich in Vitamin C, possibly helping to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, beneficial microbial action, heart health, weight management, and more.
When you think about it, it’s amazing what a valuable nutritional resource we’ve been wasting all this time. (At least, I know I have!)
Ways People Are Using—And Loving—Their Strawberry Tops
Obviously, some people already knew this because, as it turns out, plenty of people have been using their discard pile in some really delicious—and useful—ways.
Here are some of the most popular uses for destemmed strawberry tops:
- Dehydrating for tea – just dry and use as you would any other loose herbal tea. If the chucks are too large for your liking, pulverize them in a coffee or herb grinder.
- Drying for smoothies – this is especially popular among people who put extra greens (like kale or spinach) in their smoothies for a health boost
- Freezing for smoothies – same as the above, but quicker, easier, and doesn’t require a dehydrator
- Flavoring or infusing water — you can use just the strawberry tops or combine them with other flavor pairings like fresh or dried mint, cucumbers (or better yet, cucumber peels! Another waste-saver!), rhubarb, blueberries, and other berries, or pineapple
- Making strawberry-infused vinegar – put the strawberry tops in a jar, cover with your favorite vinegar (white, rice, and balsamic are all good choices), steep for a couple of days (up to a week), strain, and enjoy!
- Flavoring alcohol—soak the tops in your alcohol of choice for a few days, strain, and enjoy in cocktails (rum, vodka, or gin are all good options)
- Flavor a strawberry simple syrup —use the syrup in mocktails and cocktails or as toppings or flavors for ice cream, cakes, and more
- Kombucha flavoring
- Strawberry lemonade concentrate (use the tops in place of or in addition to strawberries in the recipe)
- Mixed into green salads—Strawberry Spinach Salad is a classic favorite that you can make with tops instead of whole berries (imagine it with a strawberry-flavored balsamic vinaigrette)
- Strawberry top syrup–this syrup can be used for all sorts of things, like pancakes, waffles, or ice cream topping
- Dehydrate and grind into powder – which could then be added anywhere you think would be good…as a flavoring, nutritional enhancement, smoothie, or drink powder…
- Strawberry leaf pesto (like regular pesto, but substitute some or all of the greens with strawberry tops) — for this one, the leafier, the better
Ways to Use Strawberry Tops as Skin-Health and Beauty Aids
There are even a few ways to use strawberry tops as part of your skin health and beauty regimen:
- As an anti-itch soothing bath (sprinkle dried leaves or tops into bath water or use a tea bag or ball filled with dried tops in the bath)
- As a teeth cleaner and/or teeth whitener (According to farmersalmanac.com, just rub green tops over your teeth as a cleaner—they have astringent properties—or use the top to rub baking soda onto your teeth and let sit for a few minutes, then brush as you normally would. The combination will brighten your teeth, though experts say it’s a temporary whitening and you may be risking your enamel.)
They’re Tops for Pets, Too
As an itch-relieving bath for your pets – the same properties that relieve itchy skin for humans can work for dogs and other pets; follow the same basic instructions as above
Other No-waste, Non-eating Uses for Strawberry Tops
And if you’re not sure eating strawberry tops is for you, or you just don’t have the time or inclination to deal with them, there are some good ways to put discarded strawberry tops to good use:
- Add strawberry tops to your compost pile
- Feed tops to pets or livestock like chickens, ducks, goats, or rabbits
- Dry and save seeds to plant (though your results may vary if the berries are hybrids or the genetics are unknown)
- Plant tops and let seeds grow into new plants (without drying first – again, results may vary, but it’s free to try!)
Good News! Less Waste! Less Work!
Knowing that you can use your strawberry tops can be a real game-changer. First of all, you just don’t need to waste those tops anymore. But secondly, depending on how and what you use your strawberries for, you might not need to top or hull them at all—imagine the time you could save!
For example, if you’re just going to throw the tops into smoothies for a health and fiber boost, you don’t even need to remove the tops when prepping, and you don’t need to take the tops off for berries that you’re freezing or saving for smoothies. The whole strawberry can go in, tops and all. If that’s what you’re doing with them, you can just freeze the whole berries to use later. The same could be done for berries being used for things like strawberry wine, or anywhere you plan to use the whole berry with the top.
If you’re not sure how you’ll be using the berries, you can always remove the tops and freeze just the tops to decide what you want to do with them later and have the trimmed berries for other recipes.
Hull, Tops, Calyx, Leafy Crown, Stems…By Any Name, Always Useful
It helps to know that not everyone uses the same name for strawberry tops. How does that help? Well, you might find people talking about ways to use strawberry hulls, leafy crowns (not to be confused with the crowns you plant to grow new strawberry plants), calyxes, stems, and so on.
No matter what you call them, they’re all edible, all useful, and all have the same nutritional benefits. So, if you come across some neat way, someone is using a strawberry top by a different name, take note! And take pleasure in knowing that you’ve just found another great way to cut waste and make the most of your strawberries.