Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Strawberries that come in plastic boxes don’t always taste as good as they look. Same goes for apricots. Here’s an easy fix: Roast ’em. It’s amazing what a stint in the oven can do for less-than-stellar fruit. It brings out the sweetness and adds some nice carmelized notes, making them taste like the Platonic ideal of strawberry or apricot. Below, I tell you how to do this, and I give you ideas for how to use and store the roasted fruit.
I don't give amounts in the ingredients list because it all depends on how much fruit you're using. You need to taste as you go and add more lemon juice or sugar depending on how sweet the fruit is after roasting, and what your personal preferences are.
Method for strawberries:
Strawberries, rinsed and hulled (green part removed)
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Vanilla extract (optional)
Place the strawberries on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, pointy tips up. Bake in a preheated oven, 375 degrees, until the strawberries are soft and oozing juice, about 20-30 minutes (maybe longer depending on the size). Some of the strawberries may develop scorched tips. This is fine.
Transfer the strawberries to a bowl if you want to leave them whole. Or blend them if you want to make puree. Add the fresh lemon juice (about 2 teaspoons per heaping pint of berries), along with some sugar until it is the level of sweetness you prefer. A good rule of thumb is to add 25% sugar by weight of the strawberries. So, if you have 20 ounces of strawberries, add 5 ounces of sugar. But taste before you add. You may need less, you may need more. Stir in a dash of vanilla extract, if you want.
Method for apricots:
Same as for strawberries, except that you will use apricot halves, stones removed. Roast until the fruit is soft and oozing, about 20-30 minutes (or longer if the fruit is big). If there are scorch marks, don’t worry. Add the lemon juice and sugar to taste. Sometimes apricots taste better when they’re left on the tart side, so be gradual about the sugar, and keep tasting as you go along. Add the optional vanilla at the end, after you get the sweetness level right.
Some apricots develop a leathery skin after roasting. This problem disappears as soon as you puree them.
Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar for about 5 days, or freeze in ziploc bags for longer storage.
What to do with the roasted fruit: Roasted strawberries are good with some high-quality balsamic vinegar drizzled over them. Another idea: Stir roasted fruit into oatmeal or plain yogurt, or use as an ice cream topping. Puree can be swirled into cheesecake batter before baking, or spooned over cheesecake or pound cake at serving time. If you’re making your own ice cream, use some of the puree or fruit chunks in the cold ice cream base about ten minutes before the churning is finished.