So what would you do if your beloved’s favorite dessert was strawberry shortcake, but his birthday always falls not during strawberry season? I’ve wrestled with this dilemma for, oh, about 15 years (but who’s counting). Look, I’d love to be able to tell you that I preserve strawberries when they are at their ripest, but the truth is that I don’t always get around to it. And that’s fine, because if the food police are going to come and get me they’ll have bigger and better reasons to put me away. Besides, they won’t be able to help anyone solve the problem of what to do if you have to make a strawberry shortcake in a season in which fresh strawberries are not at their peak. The solution, of course, is to make really good strawberry syrup, which even mediocre strawberries can help achieve. Here’s how I do it.
1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Bring strawberries, water, sugar, and corn syrup to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let mixture boil over. Add lemon juice. Strain syrup into a glass bowl or jar; discard solids. Chill syrup in refrigerator and continue to store there.
For strawberry shortcake: Toss syrup with sliced fresh strawberries and use as filling for cake. This syrup is also excellent over ice cream, pancakes, and waffles. You can make strawberry milk with it, too.
P.S. Love strawberries? The party doesn’t have to end when the season is over, truly. Try grilled pound caked with grilled strawberries, or homemade strawberry pop tarts, or strawberry margaritas. And revisit Kelsey’s guide to the best ways to pick, freeze, and preserve strawberries, so you don’t get yourself into this mess again next year.