Once strawberry season hits, you can be sure I have about 101 plans for these ruby red gems of summer. But of all the ways there are to make the most of fresh strawberries, there is one simple technique that stands above the rest in my book.
So once your fingertips are stained and your lips are tinted red from eating your fill of berries straight from the carton, here's a delicious trick to turn them into the ultimate simple summer treat.
Macerated Berries Are the Ultimate Low-Effort, High-Reward Treat
The quickest and simplest path to turning strawberries into a total treat is tossing them with a spoonful of sugar. The sugar draws out the fruit's liquid, creating a sweet, fruity syrup, and leaves the berries with a soft, tender texture and bigger, bolder, sweeter flavor.
Macerating is also a super-smart and easy way to transform a container of otherwise flavorless, bland berries into a delicious, saucy topping.
The Easiest Way to Macerate Strawberries
The beauty of making macerated strawberries is that you can pull it off whether you have just a few berries or a few quarts of berries.
Start by removing the leafy green tops from the berries (but don't toss them — there are some smart ways you can use strawberry tops), then slice, quarter, or dice the berries. As a rule of thumb, use two tablespoons of granulated sugar for each pint of berries. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries, then stir to coat.
Want to up the flavor even more? Consider adding some citrus zest, a sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil or mint, a pinch of ground ginger or cardamom, a splash of juice, or your favorite booze to give berries a a serious flavor upgrade.
Plan to let them sit at room temperature for at lest 30 minutes or up to overnight. Then give softened berries one more good stir so they're coated with syrup before digging in.
All the Ways to Eat Macerated Berries
Let's be very clear — there are no wrong ways to eat macerated berries. And while they make an excellent dessert, there's a way to get them on the table (and in your belly!) any time of day.
When it comes to breakfast, I like to treat macerated berries just as I would jam. That means spooning them over a piece of ricotta or almond butter toast, using them as a topping for pancakes and waffles, and making a bowl of yogurt, overnight oats, or chia pudding a little sweeter. For lunch, try them in place of jam for a PB&J sandwich or use a small spoonful to give your regular salad a summery twist. For dessert, macerated strawberries spooned over a dish of vanilla ice cream is pure bliss. They also make a good partner for pound cake, cheesecakes, and shortcakes.
Of course, you could also just eat them straight from the bowl!