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For The Sweetest Macerated Strawberries, Look To Lemon And Sugar

Chopped strawberries in glass bowl
Chopped strawberries in glass bowl - marcociannarel/Shutterstock

Although they're delicious right off the vine, fresh berries can also be transformed into flavorful fillings, sauces, and meal accompaniments. Beyond using your latest strawberry haul to make a colorful fruit salad or the easiest chocolate-covered strawberries, you may be interested in turning these bright red fruits into a sweet and satisfying sauce or topping through maceration. Maceration involves the development of flavor by drawing out a fresh food's inner juices with added sugar, spices, or acid. Macerated fruit makes for a delicious yet versatile ingredient that can elevate several sweet and savory dishes. To turn fresh berries into the ultimate strawberry compote, use a decent amount of sugar and some lemon juice or zest.

Combining sugar and strawberries is not only delicious, it's scientifically compelling. Adding sugar to fresh strawberries highlights the process of osmosis in food form. Sugar draws out strawberries' inner juices causing the juice to spill out and balance in concentration from both the inside and outside of the fruit's flesh. This results in an almost jam-like consistency made even more sweet and flavorful with a splash of citrus. Lemon adds a nice acidic bite to macerated strawberries, gently balancing the addition of granulated sugar. However, how you prepare this strawberry mixture affects the texture and consistency. We're here with the details on how to do it right.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

How You Cut And Mix Macerated Strawberries Creates Many Variations

Chopped strawberries in bowl
Chopped strawberries in bowl - Angelika Heine/Shutterstock

To achieve perfectly macerated strawberries for your morning strawberry ricotta toast (or whatever dish you'd like to add it to), consider how firm or jammy you want the resulting mixture to be. For every 3 cups of berries, mix in roughly ½ cup of granulated sugar and a pinch of salt. Add in the juice and zest from 1 lemon. While you can play around with your sugar and lemon ratio depending on how sweet your berries are, take note: How you cut strawberries affects how long they take to macerate. Finely chopped strawberries need less maceration time; berries left whole or thickly sliced may need up to an hour before any sugary liquid forms. To create macerated berries with a thicker sauce base, use firm and just ripened berries. Cut the fruit into even pieces but reserve a portion for crushing. Adding a crushed or finely diced portion of strawberries releases additional moisture and creates a thicker sauce.

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If you want your macerated berries to retain more texture, aim to consume them within 24 hours. The longer the cut berries sit in sugar, the softer they become. Keep this in mind when using lemon juice as well: More juice added at the beginning of the mixing process will produce saucier berries. Regardless of how much liquid your macerated berries produce, sugar and lemon-infused strawberries are a sublimely sweet way to upgrade many of your favorite snacks and desserts.

Elevate Several Foods With Macerated Strawberries

Macerated strawberries on toast
Macerated strawberries on toast - Tanya Consaul Photography/Shutterstock

Macerated strawberries made with lemon and sugar are a perfect way to enhance your most prized confections. Spoon this lemon-infused mixture over vanilla ice cream or brownies, or make homemade toasted pound cake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. You can also use macerated strawberries to upgrade your overnight breakfast bowls or morning smoothies. Add a bit of finely minced basil to your next round of macerated fruit for more complexity in flavor. You can also swap out the lemon juice for orange or even use a bit of Grand Mariner for a touch of sophistication.

While sweet and citrusy strawberries are the perfect accompaniment to sugary breakfast dishes and desserts, you can also change the added ingredients to use this jammy fruit in more savory meals. Create a tangy mixture that works on a variety of foods by swapping lemon juice for red wine vinegar. You can also macerate the berries with balsamic vinegar for a fruit compote that pairs wonderfully with braised meat and slow-cooked entrees. The result is a distinctly flavored topping perfect for elevating several rich and filling dishes. But remember: For superbly sweet macerated berries that suit a variety of sweeter snacks and treats, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and zest are all you need.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.