Start to Finish: 20 minutes to an hour
Difficulty Level: Easy
Properly speaking, the sliced and sweetened strawberries that top a shortcake are macerated strawberries. The berries are sprinkled with sugar, which draws out the water from the fruit to make a light syrup. The strawberries’ texture also changes, getting softer.
- 3 cups strawberries
- 1/4 cup white sugar
Gently rinse the strawberries and make sure they are free of dirt and rot.
Hull the strawberries and slice them into quarters over a bowl to catch any juice.
Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and gently stir.
Let the strawberries sit undisturbed for at least 15 minutes and up to one hour. The longer you let them sit, the fuller the flavor is.
Serve the strawberries at room temperature. Strawberries can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one day; return them to room temperature before serving for best flavor.
This basic recipe is open to endless variations. If you have vanilla sugar, use it partly or entirely in place of white sugar. You also can substitute light brown sugar.
Add lavender, orange zest or finely minced mint or basil to the strawberries.
Add a dash or two of red wine, champagne or orange liqueur.
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Add a very small amount of rose water or orange-flower water.
Try macerated strawberries as an ice cream topping, over pancakes, waffles or French toast, or stirred into plain or vanilla yogurt. Blend them and use them as a base for smoothies or strawberry lemonade. Layer them with whipped cream or mascarpone to create a trifle or parfait.