Rose Levy Beranbaum developed a method for berry puree that involves extracting the juice, concentrating it down to one-fifth it’s original volume, pureeing the berry flesh and then adding back in the juice/syrup. This gives the puree maximum berry flavor without cooking the pulp, which tends to lead to a caramelized, sugary flavor rather than a pure berry flavor. While you could just puree fresh berries and call it a day, berries, and strawberries especially, contain so much water that the flavor of the puree, without some amount of cooking off the water, will be much less intense.
I’ve been washing and hulling and slicing strawberries ’til my fingers are permanently pink. Therefore, once I finished the batch of puree, I decided I deserved a break: vanilla ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries, and strawberry puree. Or, as I like to call it, lunch. Berrylicious!
Adapted from Strawberry Sauce in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose’s Strawberry Puree
- 5 cups (20 oz) strawberries, frozen overnight if fresh (freezing overnight helps fresh berries to release their juice)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- pinch sea salt
- In a colander suspended over a deep bowl, thaw the strawberries completely. This will take several hours at room temperature, or you can place in an oven with a pilot light, or slowly defrost in the microwave (do not allow berries to cook).
- Press on the berries (if necessary) to force out the juice. You should yield about 1 and 1/4 cups of juice.
- In a small saucepan boil the juice until it is reduced to 1/4 cup (the juice will thicken and become syrupy). Alternatively, you can microwave the juice on high, in a greased, 4-cup measure or bowl, until reduced, which will give the purest strawberry flavor (as there is no chance for carmelization).
- Puree the strawberries in a food processor. You should yield 1 liquid cup of puree. Stir in the reduced strawberry juice, lemon juice and salt.
Yields 1 and 1/4 cups puree.
- To make a lightly-sweetened strawberry sauce of this puree, add 1/4 cup (1.75 oz) sugar, 3 tbsp honey, or 4 tbsp maple syrup (1.75 oz) and stir until dissolved.
- You may omit lemon juice in order to make the puree completely local; however a small bit of lemon juice punches up the strawberry flavor, so I think it is worth it. You might increase the salt (2 pinches I guess!) a bit in order to counteract the lack of lemon juice.
- I like the texture that the inclusion of tiny strawberry seeds gives this puree, so I do not strain it. If you don’t like the seeds, force the puree through a fine mesh sieve prior to using or storing.
- Strawberries are safely acidic, even without the addition of lemon juice, to can this puree as is; however, as the whole point of Rose’s method is not to cook the strawberry pulp, I choose to freeze the puree. If freezer space is at a premium, fill sterilized 4- or 8-oz jars to within 1/4-inch headspace and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Up to 1 year frozen. I like to freeze this in ice cubes trays for about a day, then transfer the cubes to a Ziplock bag, that way I have handy portion-sized amounts for strawberry cream cheese frosting, a quick strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, to stir into oatmeal or yogurt, to serve on pancakes or waffles… you get the idea.
Strawberry season! Early summer here, but since this needs to be made with frozen strawberries, the puree can actually be made all year round.