Strawberries are one of the more enticing treats of early summer. Instead of just macerating them in sugar, I love roasting strawberries with a split vanilla bean.
Roasting strawberries intensifies their flavor and creates a nice, gooey syrup—it’s almost like making a compote in the oven, and the berries maintain their shape while still getting jammy. It’s wonderful for spooning over ice cream, yogurt, panna cotta, or old-fashioned strawberry shortcake.
ROAST STRAWBERRIES FOR SWEETNESS
Roasting strawberries concentrates their flavor, making them sweet and extra-fruity, without having to add much sugar. You also get an intense syrup. I think of this as an oven compote. The berries themselves stay more intact roasted in the oven than they would if you simmered them on the stove.
USE FRESH STRAWBERRIES, NOT FROZEN
Save your frozen berries for smoothies. There’s no reason to make this unless you have fresh strawberries. Strawberries that are thawed after freezing are already collapsed and weeping liquid, and they’ll just turn to mush if you roast them.
Use locally grown berries, if you can. The varieties trucked in from Mexico, California, and Florida are bred more for longevity than flavor, though they’ll still be tasty when prepared this way.
Make sure you hull, removing just the green leaves and stems from the strawberry, rather than slicing off the white tops or tips—the tops are high in pectin, which helps give the finished berries a jammy texture.
I like to use this strawberry huller, but you can also use a paring knife. Just insert the tip near the leaves and cut them out in a shallow cone.
FRUIT LOVES VANILLA!
I love using whole vanilla beans with fruit. Yes, they’re expensive, but I think you really get your bang for the buck. The vanilla flavor mutes the acidity of the fruit and is so incredibly aromatic. Try it!
SWAPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
This is still worth making without the vanilla bean. Here are some other flavoring options, if you want to shake it up. Add any of the following to the baking dish, along with the berries and sugar, prior to roasting them.
- Cardamom (3 pods, or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
- A few whole star anise
- One 1 inch x 3 inch strip of orange zest
- Add a tablespoon of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier to the berries after you take them out of the oven
- Add 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (once again, add after roasting the berries)
WHEN ARE THE STRAWBERRIES DONE ROASTING?
The more room in your dish, the less time these will take to roast. The berries will be soft and slouchy. The juices pooled around them will be syrupy and have sticky little bubbles popping. As the berries cool, the syrup thickens, and the berries become even softer.
HOW TO STORE ROASTED STRAWBERRIES
Refrigerate the berries, covered, for up to a week.
You can also freeze them for up to a year. Either put them in an appropriately sized freezer-safe storage container, or in a small freezer bag and freeze it flat. It’s best to eat frozen berries within a year.
ROASTED STRAWBERRIES TASTE GREAT WITH:
Dairy! These are terrific with dairy products and dairy-based desserts.
Baked desserts are great, too: the more basic, the better.
More Great Strawberry Recipes: