The arrival of fresh strawberries means that summertime is in full swing. Whether they’re used in jellies, jams, cakes, tarts, cobblers, ice creams, shortcakes or simply sliced and served in cream, the sweet strawberry is delicious no matter how it’s prepared. Some recipes call for strawberries to be mashed or crushed. These terms can be used interchangeably, there is no difference between them, though there are a few different ways of mashing (or crushing) strawberries.

Crushing Strawberries

Crushing strawberries can be done by placing hulled and sliced strawberries into a food processor and pulsing until the desired consistency is reached. Careful not to process for too long; the object is to create a consistency between sliced and pureed. You can also crush strawberries by using a pastry cutter, potato masher or fork. These methods are more time consuming, but produce a more rustic-looking, homemade product.

Crushed Strawberry Uses

Crushed strawberries are the beginning of many jams, jellies and sauces. By adding a few tablespoons of sugar to crushed strawberries, you can make a quick and easy ice cream topping. This mixture can also be used instead of sliced strawberries in strawberry shortcake. The flavors of sliced pound cake and angel food cake are enhanced with this sauce as well. Crushed strawberries can be added into ice cream base to make strawberry ice cream.

Buying Strawberries

Buy only strawberries that are bright red and shiny, as dull or dark strawberries are likely overripe. However, if you do find yourself with overripe berries, they are a good candidate for crushing because the sugars are developed and they’re already soft. Always check over the entire container of strawberries, as some on the bottom may be bruised or moldy. As a general rule, the size of the strawberry doesn’t indicate how sweet it is, but very large strawberries tend to be lacking in flavor.

Strawberry Tips

Adding sugar, lemon juice or orange juice to sliced or crushed strawberries will help retain their red color. Don’t soak strawberries in water to clean them; they will absorb some and become waterlogged. Instead, wipe them clean with a damp kitchen towel or paper towel. Strawberries are available year round but are most flavorful during the peak season, April through July.