Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop






Posted 22 April, 2007 at 4:46pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food)

StrawberriesI really like strawberries. I might even love them. But, like most things we love, when you look closely, you realize that although you love them, they aren't perfect. Strawberries are deep red, juicy, sweet, flavorful, and soft (and yet firm - not mushy) — except when they aren't. Actually, more often than not they have one of the following defects:

  • The achenes (the seeds/fruits that dot the exterior of the fleshy fake fruit we eat) can get trapped between my teeth or in the valley of the crowns of my teeth.
  • The fruit usually isn't actually deep red, which usually means it's not as sweet as it could be… and even if I dig through basket for the really deep red ones, they are so soft and mushy in their over ripeness that they're kind of disgusting
  • It's half ripe - the bottom is sweet and flavorful, but the top (near the stem) is stark white and sour
  • It's actually sour instead of sweet
  • Instead of being juicy and flavorful, it's just watery and has no strawberry-ness

I'm too picky. So for years I didn't often eat strawberries - I'd just have one or two from a basket (the ones that were on the fine line between perfectly ripe and rotting) if I could discretely hunt and peck at it while others weren't looking. (Otherwise, I just wouldn't have any.)

Now, I break down and employ a trick that improves mediocre strawberries and brings out their strawberry flavor while cutting their potential sourness (alas, the trick does not work on the really bad strawberries) - I cut the stems off, slice them in half along their axis of symmetry, and lightly dust them with sugar. After waiting half an hour or so, the sugars will have dissolved into the water drawn up to the cut surface and the strawberries become perfectly palatable to my taste buds.

4 comments to Strawberries

Debra, April 23rd, 2007 at 9:36 am:

  • The process you're describing is called masceration. This is commonly done for many fruits just short of sugary maturity and is also highly used in the production of jellies and jams - so juice forms that can be thickened with the pectin.

John, April 23rd, 2007 at 5:18 pm:

  • You can get the best berries at a pick them yourself place. Rinsing them in a little very lightly bleached water will kill the surface molds and make them keep longer, then do as Debra says with very little surgar.

    The best strawberry jam I ever had was cooked down from hand picked berries with a bit of sugar and no pectin or other additives. It was dark, but to die for.

Ephraim F. Moya, April 24th, 2007 at 8:06 am:

  • 1) Take a drive down to Oxnard in the strawberry season. All the berries at roadside stands are perfect!

    2) For larger berries cut the tops off and then fill the hole with honey. Let them stand for awhile. Eat. Hog Heaven!

Mandy Jongeneelen, April 26th, 2007 at 4:28 am:

  • What I think is improving the strawberry flavour even further is adding the juice of an orange before dusting them with sugar! Try it and you"ll love them…..