How to roast strawberries
In most areas of life, I follow a completely predictable pattern:
- Get really excited about something!!! (Strawberries are in season!)
- Get too involved. (Must organize everyone I know to meet at the cheapest place I know to pick as much as we can!)
- Hit a wall. (too many berries.)
At this point I either become completely paralyzed (chocolate and Netflix are usually involved) or I muscle through by sheer force. Usually the latter, because I’m stubborn like that. This involves lots of early mornings, late nights, and thoughts of “What in the world was I thinking?!”
Last week, I picked 26 pounds of strawberries, which is actually surprisingly reasonable in Emily world. After making 2 batches of freezer jam and freezing 6 gallon-size bags of whole berries, I ran out of steam. I shoved the last few pounds into the refrigerator where they sat taunting me for two days. I knew if I didn’t do something fast they were going to rot in front of my eyes. Ugh, I hate throwing out food.
The variety I picked was ok, but they definitely weren’t competing with those amazing can’t-stop-eating-fresh Hoods. I’d say every third one was sweet and delicious; the rest were kind of tart and twangy. So I knew I wanted to do something with them, but it had to be fast and it had to be simple.
Then I remembered Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Roasted Strawberries in her book (one of my favorites), Super Natural Every Day (Amazon). Heidi Swanson actually said it was her favorite recipe in the whole book. Perfect. Simply toss the berries with a little sweetener (maple syrup) and oil (the recipe calls for olive oil, but I tried melted coconut oil). Roast them in the oven until the berries are soft and surrounded by a rich, sticky syrup.
I’ve read other recipes as simple as tossing the berries with a little sugar and lemon zest before roasting them. Just like with roasting vegetables, it’s hard to go wrong. While it takes some time in the oven, this method is mostly hands off. The most time was spent washing and hulling the strawberries, which I would have done anyway.
You could roast the berries until just slightly soft or go all the way, like I did here, leaving them in the oven until they were dark and sticky in a thick syrup. I scraped everything off the parchment paper into a mason jar. The results were similar to a pie filling. Top with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Use it as a topping on pancakes or waffles. Or serve it with goat cheese and crackers! Spoon it over Plain Yogurt with some Maple Cluster Granola. Kind of a fun twist on the ol’ strawberry. And it keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Next time I am going to try not crowding the pan so much and roasting them at a higher heat to see if I can get a chewier, more caramelized berry. Roasting fruit. Who knew? Next up, pineapple or nectarines. Or cherries! Ack! Somebody stop me before I get to step 3.
adapted from a Heidi Swanson recipe
yield: about 1 cup
1 lb. strawberries, hulled
4 T. maple syrup
2 T. olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- Wash and cut each strawberry in halves or quarters, depending on size. Place the berries in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, and salt. Pour this mixture over the strawberries and gently stir to coat the berries. Arrange the strawberries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Roast for about 40 minutes, just long enough for the berry juices to thicken, but not long enough to burn. Especially watch the edges of the pan.
- Scrape the berries and juice from the parchment paper into a pint jar or small container. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Use immediately or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking to work more whole foods into your family’s diet, I would highly recommend adding this cookbook to your shelf, Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson (Amazon). The pictures and text are beautiful, and the recipes are flexible and delicious every single time.
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