As strawberries pass their peak to the point of becoming overripe, they begin to lose their vibrant flavor, color and juiciness. You don’t have to toss them just yet, as there are several recipes where overripe strawberries will work just as well as fresh berries. Look for recipes that call for pureed or cooked strawberries, or those that call for ingredients that will allow you to add additional sweetness or tartness to the berries, such as strawberry muffins or strawberry pie.
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Overripe strawberries work well as an ingredient in salad dressings, which pairs perfectly with a spinach and goat cheese salad. Add some pureed berries to a balsamic vinaigrette, or create your own unique dressing from scratch. Mix together some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and then add Dijon mustard for tartness and honey and pureed strawberries for sweetness.
Roasting overripe strawberries brings their flavor back to life. Sprinkle them with sugar, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for roughly one hour. Danielle Centoni of “The Oregonian” suggests adding additional ingredients during the roasting process to add even more flavor, such as a vanilla bean, cardamom, rosemary or thyme. Add as much or as little sugar as you need to accommodate the recipe you will use the strawberries in. You might want more tart berries, for instance, if you're using them in a chutney or salad dressing, but prefer them sweeter if using them for a strawberry jam.
Since you can control the level of sweet and tart when cooking, overripe strawberries are ideal for a simple pan sauce. Just toss the berries, some water, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan, and cook over low heat until the sauce has thickened and the strawberries have broken down. Use the sauce as a topping for ice cream, pound cake, cheesecake, crepes or chocolate cake. If you puree the sauce to break the berries down, you can even use the sauce to top a strawberry shortcake made with fresh strawberries. Get creative with additions to the sauce to give it a different flavor. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse adds kirsch or brandy to his strawberry sauce, while Cat Cora uses butter and Grand Marnier in hers.
Combine your overripe strawberries with a few additional ingredients to make a flavorful chutney. A good chutney will have a balance between sweet and tart, so use ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice or mustard to make it tart, honey, agave nectar or white or brown sugar to give it sweetness, and raisins to help give it texture. Give your chutney an Indian flair by adding seasonings such as green chili or mustard, fenugreek, ajwain or fennel seeds. If you like your chutney thick, add a bit of pectin to the mixture during the cooking process.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- OregonLive.com; Roasting is a Great Way to Use Over-Ripe Strawberries; Danielle Centoni
- FoodNetwork.com; Simply Delicious New York-Style Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce; Emeril Lagasse
- FoodNetwork.com; Chocolate Filled Crepes Covered with Strawberry Sauce; Cat Cora
- Taste of Home: Strawberry Chutney Recipe