I love strawberries and I prefer to eat them fresh than to use them in a cake or muffin when I can. As summer fades, though, so decreases the availability of good fresh strawberries. They get a little bit less pretty – for lack of a more accurate word – and I’ve been known to take home some that were slightly soft from the farmers’ market just to drag out strawberries season as long as possible.
My favorite way to improve less-than-perfect strawberries is to macerate them in balsamic vinegar and sugar. The sweet-tart, syrupy vinegar highlights the natural sweetness of the berries and draws out some of their juices to form a delicious sauce. Though you can certainly do this with perfect, incredibly ripe strawberries, I actually prefer to use slightly less than pristine fruit since they need the most help. If your berries aren’t quite sweet enough, add a tablespoon or two of sugar to your vinegar and it will help to sweeten them a bit more.
To make macerated strawberries: Use 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar per cup of sliced berries. Let the mix marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, then spoon over yogurt or ice cream.