Sauces & Buttercream Lessons
(Concentrated Strawberry Puree For Using In Baking)
Welcome to a lesson on making a concentrated strawberry puree (also known as a strawberry reduction), that can be used in your baking. Apply the same basic technique for any fruit or vegetable puree & take your baking skills up a notch. Add to buttercream for a great taste & also natural, food-safe colourant.Jump to Recipe
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What You Will Learn
• In this lesson, you will learn how to prepare strawberries for making a puree, and also how to concentrate that puree down (or reduce it/a reduction), for more flavour.
• Examples of how to use the concentrated strawberry puree, to take your baking to the next level.
• Lesson can also be easily applied to any fruit or vegetable you would like to use, have an abundance of, or want to preserve.
**Extra tip on washing & storing berries for longer.
Check out my Fig & Anise Curd recipe, using frozen figs.
Why Make Concentrated Strawberry Puree?
There are many good reasons for making a fruit puree, or a concentrated fruit puree, & not all related to baking.
The Benefits Of Puree
• Uses up older fruit with no food waste
• Natural way to use an abundance of fruit
• No additives, or artificial flavours, colourings or sweeteners
• Very low in added sugar
• Can Be chilled or frozen to last longer
• Gluten-free, Halal, Vegan, Vegetarian, Alcohol-free
• Use for weaning babies, or people on liquid diets
Benefits Of Fruit Puree In Baking
• Natural colouring & flavouring
• Use as a sauce or glaze (add to powdered sugar for topping doughnuts)
• Ripple through frozen yoghurt of homemade ice-cream before freezing
• Drizzle on top of ice-cream or overnight oats
• Use inside cupcakes or poke cakes
•Add to meringue desserts
• Serve with my thick fluffy pancakes
• Add to buttercream for a lovely taste (that comes from the concentrating/reducing the strawberries).
• Makes a naturally food-safe, baby pink coloured buttercream
Why My Method Is Different
1.Other recipe sites or books, might have you puree in a quicker way, by perhaps blending the fruit first before cooking. But I find my technique works best & doesn’t ruin your stick blender by trying to blend uncooked strawberries.
2.It also makes for a much smoother puree. Taking that bit longer, is beneficial for a more concentrated puree, with more flavour than simply pureeing the fruit. And for baking purposes, when adding to say buttercream, you want the flavour to come through. There is also no need for lemon, lemon juice or lots of sugar using this method.
3.Reducing the strawberry puree more, also results in an even deeper red colour, that works even better when using as a food colourant. And being concentrated, you are adding less liquid which is too beneficial when colouring foods & doesn’t mess up the consistency.
Cleaning & Storing Berries Longer
For berries in particular, I wash in water with white vinegar. Then drain & place on paper towels/kitchen paper over a tray, spacing them apart. Any bad ones or about to go, keep to the side, (and try to use up the ones about to go first). Any bad fruit touching others, will speed up the other fruits going off quicker. Place paper on top & pat dry gently and leave to dry.
You can then place in plastic or glass containers, with airtight lids, with the paper and place in the fridge. These can last longer & sometimes much longer than just in your fridge with only water washing.
For raspberries that are very delicate, spread apart in containers too. Strawberries and blueberries are not so bad for stacking if they are fresh enough.
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Strawberry Reduction (Concentrated Strawberry Puree) Lesson
- Scales or measuring cups (optional)
- Knife and chopping board
- Tablespoon (optional)
- Medium sized cooking pot
- Wooden spoon
- Bowl for blending
- Blender, stick blender, food processor
- Cling film/plastic wrap
- 678 grams Strawberries (24 oz, 1½ lb after hulling and trimming – see notes*)
- 3 tbsp Sugar (I used granulated, but any sugar like brown, caster/super fine, fruit sugar, coconut sugar. Not sweetener)
- Water (You might need 1 or 2 tbsp water, see recipe)
Prepare The Strawberries
- Make sure your strawberries, or whatever fruit(s) you are using, are cleaned properly. For berries in particular, I wash in water with white vinegar. See my tips above the recipe for how to keep fruit longer. For this puree, we just need to clean well, no drying required.
- Now prepare your strawberries, by hulling the tops, & removing any bad bits. Then cut the strawberries in half, or more if quite large. You want them all to be cut to about the same general size. See Photo 1 above.
- Once that is done, either weigh out how much strawberries you have ready to puree, or use measuring cups. Note that measuring cups are not as accurate an amount because it is volume and depends on the size the fruit is cut into. But if you know how much you had in ounces before cutting, you should have a rough idea, and know how much sugar to add. Note this is not for a particularly sweet puree & depends on the strawberries you have and personal taste. Sugar does help preserve the puree.
Cook The Strawberries
- Add the strawberries to your cooking pot and mix in a little water. You don't want to add too much water at this stage. You may have noticed before that uncooked strawberries, while cooking in a pie, give off quite a lot of liquid. Let the strawberries start to cook on a medium heat to begin with, until the strawberries have become a little less dry. Mix a few times during this period, just to make sure nothing is too dry or sticking to your pot. See Photo 2 above.
- Increase the heat to high or med-high, and let the strawberries start to come to a boil. The strawberries should look a little softer, and there should be a lot of moisture given off by this stage. (See Photo 3 above). Reduce the heat to med-low and let simmer until the strawberries are quite soft, and there will have been a change in the shade of red – being less vibrant. (See Photo 4 below or video for reference).
Blend Cooked Strawberries
- Remove the cooked strawberries, including the juice & place in another bowl, before blending (processing, liquidizing or blitzing, using whatever you have). Be careful when blending hot food. You should have a relatively thin liquid mixture now. See Photo 5 below – a before and after pic.
Cook Down The Puree
- Return the strawberry puree to the cooking pot, and add in the sugar, & bring to a boil. (*** Be sure to cover the area around the stove, particularly anywhere you don't want to stain red. As I always find using an immersion blender & hot food, always ends with the mixture bubbling a lot & trying to splash up & out the pan.) You do want at least 5 or 10 minutes of a vigorous boil to help with reducing to a concentrated puree. See Photo 6 below.
- Reduce the heat & let the mixture simmer and reduce by at least half. The red of strawberries (a very deep shade), on my light green pot, makes it very clear where the initial level was. You can mix the puree every so often during the simmering, as well as check the thickness by pouring off a wooden spoon & testing the thickness on the back of the spoon. To test, run the end of a teaspoon along the back of the puree covered wooden spoon to make a line. Once thick enough the line itself will be relatively clear to see, as well as seeing the thickness of the puree that runs parallel to the line. Checking at the beginning of concentrating the puree, the line will be a lot less defined. (See Photos 7 & 8 below & the video for reference).
- In Photo 7 above you will also see how the thickened puree is sticking to the sides of the pan as it reduces. The thickened puree will also be a much deeper red, almost mahogany, & not a letterbox red colour anymore. (Compare Photos 5 & 6 with Photo 7). If you want to concentrate the puree even further, go ahead and let it reduce more.
Cool & Store
- Transfer the puree to a bowl of container and allow to cool for 10 -15 minutes before moving to the fridge to cool down completely. (Remember to be careful of splashing, I won't be held accountable for any red stains 🙂 See Photo 8 above). The strawberry puree will thicken further on cooling, especially after being in the fridge.
- Store the puree in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or freeze for 3 – 6 months**
Freezing & Defrosting
- Freeze strawberry puree reduction in a suitable airtight container (label & date it & even weigh or measure beforehand so you know how much you have). You can also store small portions of the puree in ice cube trays. Shapes & sizes vary, but you would get about 1 tbsp in a standard sized ice cube tray. Remember to not completely fill & leave a very tiny gap at the top as it will expand ever so slightly, on freezing. This would be ideal for adding small amounts of puree to buttercream etc. Cooked fruit puree, can be used up 3 – 6 months after freezing**
- Defrost frozen strawberry puree in the fridge for a few hours, but for very small amounts or ice cube sized, it will defrost much quicker.
Uses For Strawberry Puree Reduction
- Can be used for so many different things – here are just a few examples. Simply drizzle the puree on top of ice-cream or overnight oats (see below). Add to buttercream to make the lovely baby pink coloured buttercream as shown in the pics. Add to homemade ice-cream or frozen yoghurt before freezing into the mixture. Add to the inside of cupcakes, or in poke cakes or use to draw fancy patterns on a dessert plate if you like 🙂 Perfect for weaning babies, or for those on a liquid or soft food diet.
*Recipe serving based on 4tbsp/58g/2oz portionsStrawberries – started off with 892g/31½ oz/2lb, on sale because of sell-by date and I hulled & trimmed off any bad/bashed spots. You do not need to use the same amount of strawberries as I did. The process is the same & you only add a very small amount of sugar. So as a ratio, you could say about: 1 tbsp sugar to every 8 oz/½lb/226g of prepared strawberries as a base line. And then increase accordingly. Recipe Yield – about 1.5 cups/350g/12 oz Water – you might need 1 or 2 tbsp of water when you are first cooking the chopped strawberries. Use in buttercream, as a cake filling, in meringue desserts, over yoghurt or oats. ** Chilling & freezing references from Freezeit.co.uk For more information on freezing my concentrated strawberry puree, click to go to their Freezing Strawberry Puree Page. My process is different, as this is a concentrated strawberry puree, in order to get as much flavour into whatever you intend using the puree for. Ideal for buttercream in terms of extra flavour, but also as a natural food colourant that will be even deeper on concentrating the fruit puree. Gluten Free, Halal, Alcohol-free, Vegan etc (be sure to check the sugar is Vegan approved). About The Baking Lessons – This is a practical lesson, from Caroline’s Easy Baking Lessons website. The site offers structured theory, sweet & savoury lessons & very comprehensive recipes/tutorials for beginner bakers. Site also includes fondant for beginners, recipe reviews & lots of useful baking info. Go to my popular article Conversion Table For Common Baking Ingredients. All hand measured by myself, during recipe development. All recipes, lessons & reviews, include the measurements in grams, ounces & cups as standard. Click to go to the site – Caroline’s Easy Baking Lessons. Other Recipes You Might Like Plum & Orange Jam Easy Lemon Curd Caramal 101 – including salted caramel sauce Pastry Cream Home Made Vanilla Extract Check out my Cake Recipes Page **Nutritional calculations calculated via Whisk.com, approximate calculations & not based on personal nutritional evaluation of the ingredients. Also note these values may decrease on cooking/reducing.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy, beginner level
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***Nutritional calculations calculated via Whisk.com, approximate calculations & not based on personal nutritional evaluation of the ingredients. Also note these values may decrease on cooking/reducing.
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