Strawberry Reduction

Would you like to talk about more red sauces? Nothing seasonal and helpful like cranberry, of course. I was thinking strawberry reduction. It also helps me put off ice cream one more day. 
I found this recipe when I found my favorite custard recipe (and a brilliant food writer, of whom I may be somewhat in awe). I've been making both ever since. I have also tried blueberry and raspberry reductions - straining is recommended for both. Without, the blueberry has quite the texture, which not everyone likes. 
Strawberry reduction is so far the one I've made the most. Stirred into coconut milk, it makes a very nice vegan ice cream, with a certain floweriness that even those of us that do consume dairy enjoy. In vanilla custard, it comes out as a nice, rich, classic strawberry ice cream. I have not tried just cream yet, but that is the next plan. I have tried yogurt, both frozen and not. Both were delightful. The coconut version was so good I didn't make anything else with it for a while. 
The reduction is also  good poured over cheesecake, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, or stirred into your salad dressing. Or, straight from the container, into your mouth. 

I use frozen strawberries, they keep better in general and are less expensive. Not to mention they are easier to get in November. And they blend well with yogurt for smoothies in the morning. 

So step one is measuring out your strawberries.  Then you do nothing until they are about half-thawed, at which point you slice them and smother in sugar.
And smothered in sugar. (Yes, these are two different batches.)
Then you do nothing again. 
At some point, the strawberries will thaw out (If you have places to be, feel free to stick the bowl in the fridge overnight), then give them an hour to sit in the sugar and let it release all their juices. (So, you do nothing, again)
Then you pour the strawberries through a sieve, into a pot - but only the syrup. That's what the sieve is for. You let the strawberries sit and drain their juices for a half hour or so. (So, more nothing time! If you still have places to be, set the sieve or strainer on your pot, dump in the strawberries, cover with plastic wrap, and leave that whole combination in the fridge til you get back to it).

Once drained, you put the pot on the stove and put it on low heat - you want to evaporate some of the water off, but not boil the syrup, so it still tastes like fresh strawberries, not jam. Though worst case, strawberry jam is still delicious, enjoy that and try again next time. This in my experience becomes a game of playing with the heat on your stove, trying to get it hot enough to reduce the liquid, but not so hot it really boils. I usually put it on the smallest burner at medium-low heat, then turn it down to low. It takes a few hours, stir every so often and check to make sure it's not bubbling all over the place. That is the fussiest part of that, in that you need to be around enough to check every now and then, but you don't have to be constantly watching. If you have any other baking projects, you can alternate. Croissants would do this nicely.
Fun swirls. 

In the meantime, blend the strawberry bits. Then push as much of them as you can through the sieve that they have been sitting in. The remaining seedy pulpy bit is nice in muffins or stirred into angel food cake fluff when you add the vanilla, for a nice Strawberry Angel Food Cake (Merlin highly recommends!), but you don't need it for the rest of this. The smooth parts that you squished through, those you mix back together with the syrup once it is sufficiently reduced (about a third or so), with some kosher salt and if you have it, a few drops of rose water. Then you are done, and the biggest challenge becomes not drinking the reduction before you can use it for something. (Since it freezes, you could do that. If you happened to make a double or triple batch and have some extra, it keeps more or less indefinitely in the freezer.)


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