Maceration is a process of breaking down and softening various substances. In food preparation, the process most often occurs when soaking fruit in sugar, perhaps with a liquid such as fruit juice, alcohol or other flavoured liquid, so that the fruit softens and takes on the flavour.
Maceration changes a fruit’s taste and texture. It is used to improve the texture of hard, under-ripe fresh fruit and also to enhance the flavour of ripe fruit. When fruit is macerated, it softens and releases some of its flavours and also aroma and becomes something quite different – a complex mix of the various flavours and textures.
Today’s recipe does not require any added liquid – strawberries and passionfruit release their own juice into a wonderfully delicious mix that provides its own liquid for maceration. But when macerating fruit you can, if you wish, add liquors, liqueurs, wine, fruit juice, vinegars, and infused water. And any of these can be infused with flavourings such as spices, herbs, tea, and coffee. Alcohol can include gin, vodka, whisky, brandy, rum. Flavourings also include vanilla bean, chilli, basil, lemon thyme, fresh ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, whole cloves etc.
The soft fruit and liquid combo has many uses: a tasty dessert on its own topped with a dollop of whipped cream or sweetened yoghurt; a sauce for ice cream, pudding or cake; or a filling for pie or cake where it adds flavour, colour and moisture.
Delicate fruit like strawberries and raspberries can over-soften, so maceration time is best from 30 mins to a couple of hours – tougher fruits can be macerated overnight and up to 2 or 3 days.
Macerated Strawberries and Passionfruit
500g strawberries, hulled and halved
120g castor sugar (or to taste)
Place the pulp of 1 – 2 passionfruit in a bowl with the strawberries and sugar. Mix well but carefully so that the strawberries are not broken. Leave to marinate for 1 – 2 hours – it can be placed in the fridge.
When ready to serve, mix gently and top with the pulp of the remaining passionfruit.
Serve as desired – wonderful as is, or place on top of rice pudding, Payasam, or junket. Drizzle over a piece of plain cake, or over a bowl of icecream. Serve with sweetened cream, panna cotta or marscapone. French Toast (eggless) with strawberries is wonderful! Top your cereal or muesli or overnight oats with it.