So last week I drove up to Stinking Bakersfield and, as is my custom, I stopped at a fruit stand on the way back to get some fresh produce so as to salvage some value for the time spent on the road. Unfortunately, The Wife and I only managed to eat one of the three pints of strawberries I brought back, and the other two were looking a little bit dark and mushy.
So, I destemmed and trimmed out the fruit and pureed it. Then I plopped them in a simple syrup and a splash of lemon juice, and gave it a 50% reduction. One of the fortunate things about this treatment is that the initial boil made the majority of the seeds rise to the surface for relatively easy removal. The resulting sauce (I won’t call it jelly because the only pectin was the very small amount from the lemon juice) was sweet, had an intense strawberry taste and a striking red color.
About two-thirds of it went into frosting and filling used in margarita cupcakes. The Wife doesn’t seem very proud of these babies. I guess it’s because the frosting didn’t set up well and allow for a pretty topping. But she should because they taste great. The rest of the strawberry sauce went into an actual margarita. None survived to be spread on toast this morning.
Two lessons here. The first is that food that is on the verge of going bad is not yet bad and can be usefully employed. To experienced restaurateurs, this is not news at all — to at-home enthusiasts, it can take an episode like this to drive the point home. The second is that when the time is available to use them properly, real ingredients produce strong flavors and good results.