macerate: v. To soften and infuse food (usually fruit) with flavor by steeping in liquid.
This is a technique we talk about more often in the summer, since berries are one of the most common ingredients to macerate...
Fruit compotes or pie fillings often call for macerating; the goal is to get soft, smushy fruit that's broken down a bit and released a little liquid.
While the official definition of macerate only mentions steeping fruit in liquid like a liqueur or simple syrup, we also think of stirring together fruit and granulated sugar, then letting it sit for a while, as macerating. The sugar draws out some of the moisture from the fruit, which then dissolves the sugar and creates a syrupy consistency.
A couple of recipes that call for macerating:
• Tart Lemon Tart
• Strawberry Shortcake
And the photo above is a recipe from Gourmet for fragrant, marinated summer fruit. The finished product isn't as soft as some macerated fruits, but the idea of infusing it with the flavor of the syrup is the same:
• Fruit in Lemon-Verbena Syrup, from Gourmet
Related: Word of Mouth: Chantilly Cream (It would be good on some macerated berries.)
(Image: Shelley Wiseman for Gourmet)