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
9 x 13 pan
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.
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!