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June 20, 2009 in how to6 comments

how to prepare strawberries for shortcake


Otherwise known as: kind of mashed, kind of sweet strawberry yumminess.

This how-to might seem pretty basic, and it is. It’s not hard, but there are a few things that are still nice to know. For instance, you might as well hull the berries before washing them. Inevitably you run into a mushy spot here or there, plus then you don’t have to worry about getting all the sand that may be lurking under the green leaves on the blossom end — without the hulls it will rinse right off.

I do not recommend using a blender or food processor for macerating strawberries. No matter how careful you are, the berries will get chopped too finely, ending up close to a strawberry purée. With shortcake, you aren’t pouring on a purée, you’re ladling on sweet bits of strawberry in their own juice.


1 quart strawberries
up to 1/3 cup sugar


paring knife
9 x 13 pan
potato masher

1. Hull the strawberries by slicing off the very blossom end with the paring knife. The easiest way to do this is to hold the berry between finger and thumb in your off hand, and slicing in a shallow “V” motion across the top. The goal is to remove the leaves and tough end without taking off too much sweet strawberry in the process. Toss the hulled strawberries in the colander as you go.

Grandma would have said that was still too wasteful, and preferred to hull with her fingernail. That’s a pain in the butt, and I’ve discovered I can deal with 0.005 ounces of good berry getting cut off with the bad.

strawberries in colander and later crushed in pan

2. Take the colander to the sink and rinse the berries in cold water, making sure all dirt and sand is washed away. If you’re working with a lot of strawberries, just fill up a clean sink with cold water and toss them in there, and rinse under the tap as you take them out.

Transfer the cleaned whole strawberries to the 9 x 13 pan.

3. Now it’s time for potato masher fun! Grab your masher and mash ‘em up good. The strawberries will release juice as you macerate them. Crush them as much as you want. Note you can use this same technique when preparing strawberries for jam. For shortcake, leave some nice big chunks in. For jam, mash more finely.

Wasn’t it a great idea to mash the strawberries in the pan? There’s no mess anywhere, and it’s all contained.

4. Transfer the mashed strawberries to a bowl. Add sugar to taste. Go light; the mixture will taste sweeter as the sugar fully dissolves. You may want to go naked, or add just a tablespoon or two. Start slowly and add more if it’s too tart. You can always add more sugar, but it’s impossible to take sugar out.

Of course, there is ONE cure for too-sweet strawberries is…add more strawberries!

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  1. Jennifer H says:

    We have always used a tater masher for our strawberries but I really like the pan idea. In the bowl you always find one strawberry that hid on the bottom and didn’t give up it’s juice. Also, we prefer to use a masher that has the square holes in it, less mashing required.

  2. Amy says:

    Oh yeah, I was looking for a square one and realized I didn’t have one. I like the curvy one cause I like biggish chunks, so it just comes down to what you like.

    Now that I think of it, I think the pan came about when mashing berries for jam, since you tend to be mashing a LOT of them.

  3. I had already washed and stemmed my strawberries when I decided to see how many I needed for my Bible study group, and how much sugar to add. I’m glad I came across your blog post from 2009. I wasn’t liking the large size I had been cutting the strawberries in, and had started cutting smaller. The container was a square Rubbermaid one. I took a Pampered Chef tool dealy that’s for cooking hamburger, and that worked pretty well to mash up the strawberries. I didn’t measure my sugar, but sprinkled some on after each inch or so that I got of the berries. I had been worried they wouldn’t get juicy on time, but they did!

    Thanks for your information!

  4. Jeff says:

    All I can say is, umm umm umm, don’t it just taste so good. : )

  5. Michael Wolff says:

    I really liked the pan idea too! My bachelor kitchen is missing a potato masher, so I used a meat tenderizer (the non-flat side) to slowly crush the berries in a 13 x 9 glass cassarole baking dish – marvellous!! Thanks for the idea! :-)

  6. Richard says:

    I am running out to pick some now! I live in Ponchatoula Louisiana where they grow the best strawberries! Enjoy your berries guys!

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