Right now in the Northeast (as well as most of the country), strawberries are at their peak — they’re juicier, sweeter, and more vibrant than they are the rest of the year. For the past few weeks I’ve been happy to splurge on the seasonal treat (these baskets have a tendency to command a pretty penny), but when I recently picked up a pint from the grocery store, I was quickly reminded that just because it’s strawberry season does not mean they’re all bursting with juicy, ripe flavor.
And, that’s actually okay with me. Because several years ago I discovered a super-smart and simple trick that makes any basket of berries better. It gives bland berries a surprising amount of flavor, makes a really good basket irresistibly great, and even squeezes more life out of bruised berries that are a little past their prime. And no, it’s not macerating.
Roast Your Strawberries for Even More Flavor
There are several ways to bring more flavor to a bland carton of berries, but I believe the very best result comes from roasting them in the oven. It doesn’t require adding sugar the way macerating does, and relies simply on the heat from the oven to concentrate the fruit’s natural sugars, leaving the berries with a heightened sweetness, a deep, rich flavor, and softer texture.
While I use this method most often for bland berries, it’s also a smart way to stretch a little more life out of overripe berries (that is, if you don’t plan on puréeing and freezing them). Just be sure to remove any soft softs or bruises before roasting.
The Easiest Way to Roast Strawberries in the Oven
This is a trick to keep handy all year long, and especially after the summer months are over and blissfully ripe berries are hard to come by.
This method works for as few or as many berries as you have handy. Remove the stems from the berries (and save them — there are plenty of ways to put them to work!), and either halve or quarter the berries depending on your preference. Arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cook at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
While the berries don’t need any extras, tossing them with a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice or a pinch of ground cardamom or cinnamon can make for a fun twist.
Even though the texture is different, roasted strawberries are just as versatile as raw berries. And they’re just as delicious warm as they are chilled. Try spooning them over yogurt, cottage cheese, or overnight oats, or use them as a shortcake filling or ice cream topping. Spoon them over pound cake, pudding, or panna cotta, or add them to a salad.
Use Roasted Strawberries in These Recipes
Have you ever tried roasting strawberries? What’s your favorite way to eat them?