I desperately miss strawberries. Do you remember when they actually tasted like something other than slightly sweet cotton wool? Dear old strawberries. Like a pal who's undergone a facelift, strawberries these days--while absolutely gorgeous--make you long for the old one. Even with all their bumps, blemishes and imperfections, they were resolutely and authentically themselves and absolutely irresistible.
Of course the reason is abundantly clear. Strawberries now are being bred to look beautiful and to keep for a prolonged time. They're easily transportable and of a uniform, huge size. All of this breeding to make them better, however, has neglected one salient aspect : taste. Do you remember what a strawberry used to look like inside? Deep red and juicy. Well, just take a look inside one of these contemporary monsters: a completely white interior without a drop of juice anywhere. It's like going through the supermarket equivalent of a wardrobe and finding a culinary Narnia in which the White Witch is a gigantic, beautiful strawberry completely devoid of soul.
I was sadly considering the demise of my springtime flame earlier today and thought to myself, "it's just what they did to tomatoes." Suddenly I had an inspiration. What do I do with those sad winter tomatoes that look so pretty and taste like nothing? Why, roast them of course. Not too hot, but for long enough to concentrate their tomato-iness. Both being fruits, would it work for strawberries?
I'm pleased to report a breakthrough in the world of strawberry-ness. Just roast 'em!
I took two pounds of the most beautiful cotton-wool specials I could find at the grocery and bunged them on a non-stick cookie sheet with about 1/4 cup of sugar and probably 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, spread them out in a single layer and let them do their thing in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.
I couldn't help but notice that the kitchen started to smell of something I used to remember, and when I took them out, there they were! An old friend restored.
It seems to me that the secret is to not cook them for too long. I mean, this is not an exercise in jam making. You merely want to concentrate their flavor and caramelize their sugars.
I can see an endless use for these beauties. Tonight they'll be dancing their way across vanilla ice cream. I wouldn't be surprised if they turn up resplendent on the granola and yogurt in the morning. I really think there are endless possibilities here. I'm so excited that I won't be filled with horror every time I see the perfect ones anymore, because I've found the key to unlocking their good old essence.
Ah, if only it were it so easy with one's friends.